144 Nursing Theory Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best nursing theory topic ideas & essay examples, 👍 good essay topics on nursing theory, 💡 interesting topics to write about nursing theory, 📌 simple & easy nursing theory essay titles, 🔎 most interesting nursing theory topics to write about.

  • Virginia Henderson and Her Nursing Need Theory Evaluation of the model includes the discussion of its logical congruence, legitimacy, and generation to prove the correctness of its application in today’s nursing practice with respect to patients’ and their families’ needs and expectations.
  • Kant’s Ethical Theory of Deontology in Nursing Kant advanced two approaches of categorical imperative; first, the maxim of an individual’s action should be universal; and second, a person should treat another with dignity, not as means to reach personal objectives. Also, section […]
  • Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory in Nursing As was already mentioned above, the main focus of Peplau’s theory is on the relations between a nurse and a patient. In Peplau’s theory, health is a process of moving towards the state of productive […]
  • Change Management in Nursing: Applying Kurt Lewin’s Theory The specific nursing theory that will be encompassed in the paper is Kurt Lewin’s change management theory, whereas the theoretical framework is related to nursing and medication administrations and errors.
  • Nursing Theorist Imogene King and Her Contributions When the individual opts to consult a nurse, the perception of the nurse is influenced through the constituents present in the individual.
  • Nursing History and Theory Evolution This paper aims to offer a comprehensive view of the history of nursing, major influences on the profession, and the evolution of nursing theory.
  • Middle-Range Theories in Nursing Research The explanatory theory is the second type used to define the relationship between ideas. The first premise is that there is a connection between the patient’s confidence and quality of life or well-being.
  • Middle-Range Nursing Theories and Their Usage For example, Barreiro et al.aimed to examine diagnostic validation of the low self-efficacy concept in health and nursing care by constructing a middle-range theory for diagnosis validation.
  • Impacts of Unitary-Transformative Approaches on Nursing Theories The theory promotes the need for a holistic approach to nursing that handles the connection between the universe and human being hence influencing the grand theories and the metaparadigm in nursing.
  • Nursing Meta Paradigm and Self-Care Deficit Theory In conclusion, meta paradigms can be incorporated into the major concepts of self-care deficit theory, which include nursing, humans, and the environment.
  • The Cherokee Self-Reliance Theory in Nursing Thus, the theory arose in response to the needs of the people after leaders expressed concern about the self-sufficiency of community members.
  • Nursing Theory and Conceptual Model A nursing conceptual model, on the other hand, refers to an image of a phenomenon. Hence, a conceptual model attempts to expound more on the theory by providing a vivid picture of the explained relationships.
  • Faye Abdellah Theory in Nursing Practice Overall, applying Faye Abdellah’s theory in practice is influenced by the personal qualities the nurse wants to bring to professional practice.
  • Mother Roger’s Nursing Theory Martha Elizabeth Rogers’ theory helps nurses deliver quality healthcare to their patients. Rogers’ theory that gave nursing a new meaning.
  • Florence Nightingale and Dorothea Orem’s Nursing Theories To meet the needs of patients in the diverse contemporary community, one must focus on creating consistent communication between a nurse and a patient based on the latter’s environment and background.
  • Application of Middle-Range Nursing Theory to Resolve Health Disparity The purpose of this paper is to apply one of the MRT known as the Illness-Constellation Model in guiding the understanding of the mortality of African American women in prenatal.
  • Dorothea Orem’s Theory of Self-Care in Nursing However, Dorothea Orem first raised the issue of hospital care as the interaction of two independent subjects: the patient and the nurse.
  • Søren Kierkegaard’s Ethical Theory to Nursing Referred as the “father of existentialism”, S ren Kierkegaard’s philosophically insightful and penetrating work not only focused on the social critique of the 19th-century culture and Christian faith within the state church but also in […]
  • Aristotle’s Ethical Theory and Nursing Therefore, the actions of an individual determine his happiness and the aspect of what is ethically good. This theory is directly related to the nursing professional code of ethics as indicated in the provisions of […]
  • Mid-Range Nursing Theory Analysis One of these models was developed in 2003 to promote the importance of the interactions between a nurse and their patient and the impact of this relationship on the health outcomes.
  • Nursing Theory and Its Importance Therefore, it is essential to understand the reasoning behind the establishment of a hierarchy of values in nursing. Modern nurses are taught numerous aspects of proper treatment and communication strategies that are essential for the […]
  • Nursing Process Theory by Ida Jean Orlando The following paper compares and contrasts some theorist sites on the availability of information on the Nursing Process Theory by Ida Jean Orlando, showing how easy it is to use this model in nursing practice […]
  • Implications of Theory to Nursing Practice All nursing models or theories have common positions; these include such concepts as the source of patient’s problems, the goal of the nursing interventions, the means of nursing interventions, the role of the nurse, and […]
  • Modeling and Role-Modeling Theory in Nursing Also, the theory addresses the concepts of leadership and suggests that successful nurse leaders should build trust in their followers and comply with a number of principles that promote the professional development of the followers.
  • Human Being in Nursing Theory The task of the medicine consists in resorting to the biological system, whereas the main scope of nursing is confined to focusing on the behavioral system.
  • The Feminist Theory in Nursing Since nursing has traditionally been a women’s profession, it is important to understand the oppression of women to gain insight into some of the most pressing issues in nursing.
  • Nursing Metaparadigm Theories in Emergency Room The patient is the focus of the treatment plans and is liable for making the necessary informed decisions. Nursing is an art due to the values of compassion, empathy, and caring for handling patients.
  • The Explanation and Comparison of Nursing Theories Nursing theories provide useful information concerning the definitions of nursing and the practice itself, principles that form the foundation for nursing, and also the goals and functions of nursing.
  • Nursing Learning Theories, Styles, and Skills To achieve the objective, I will explore the benefits of accruing to nurses because of their knowledge about learning theories and learning styles.
  • Transcultural Nursing Theory in Practice The theory is applicable in different settings to support the needs of many patients with psychological issues. Her competencies in social and cultural anthropology played a significant role in the development of the Transcultural Nursing […]
  • Nursing Care Theories: Henderson’s Theory This artifact is an essay discussing the theory of nursing care needs and comparing it to the approach of self-care in modern times.
  • Behavioral and Biomedical Theories in Nursing Role categories like role ambiguity, role overload, and role conflict contribute to role stress. The change from nurse-to-nurse practitioner is an illustration of role ambiguity.
  • Illness Theories: Nightingale’s Environment Nursing and Mishel’s Uncertainty Nightingale’s experiences with war victims compelled her to reexamine the role of the environment in the healing process. This philosophical underpinning would support the creation and promotion of the environment theory of nursing.
  • Fundamental Principles of Nursing Care Theory The students in this course will learn the conceptions and theories primary to the art and science in nursing. This course focuses on the beginners of nursing care of customers to encourage healthy transition for […]
  • Advanced Nursing Practice: Philosophies and Theories Theoretical aspects of nursing consider the health care system and the role of the nurse in it, the concept of public health and criteria for its assessment; demographics, communication, training, legal standards of nursing activities.
  • Bridging the Theory-Practice Gap in Nursing However, the theory-practice divide has become the profession’s most difficult obstacle, lowering the quality of the service in both education and clinical practice. In the assigned case study, the issue of the theory-practice gap is […]
  • Orlando’s Nursing Theory Explanation The theory assumes that the nurse’s role is to identify and meet the patient’s immediate need for help. The patient cannot state the nature and significance of the anxiety without the help of a nurse […]
  • Self-Transcendence Theory and Nursing Practice Firstly, I will discuss with Liza and explain the importance of overcoming depression and intending to find a new meaning in life.
  • Nursing Theorists: Florence Nightingale and Dorothea Orem She wrote that “the patient’s stomach can assimilate or derive nourishment from, and of this, the patient’s stomach is the sole judge.
  • The Nursing Theory for a Nurse and a Doctor Undoubtedly, the work and contribution to the development of nursing by Jean Watson are challenging to underestimate and overestimate. Moreover, nursing is a significant business, and the work of a professional nurse is extremely valuable.
  • Nursing Theory Discussion Board In this nursing theory course, I have learned that this process is a constant cycle of gathering and analyzing evidence, synthesizing it into practice recommendations, disseminating the information to other healthcare practitioners, and evaluating its […]
  • Nursing Theory and Health Promotion Model To use theory effectively in all realms of practice, training, and investigation, it is necessary to understand how to explain, analyze, and assess the concept.
  • Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring in Nursing Therefore, it can be said that Watson’s theory is based on the centrality of human care and the transpersonal links between the person offering clinical care and the other receiving the same.
  • Nursing Theories and Postoperative Care This is because they can assess the complexity and complexity of patient care and base all further interventions on the findings of the assessment. A feature of the phenomenon under study is the existence of […]
  • Nursing Critical Theory and Emancipatory Knowing So, I have prepared a talk about the experiences of my colleagues that are similar to the symptoms of burnout and researched the consequences of this situation to highlight the importance of the issue.
  • A Nursing Theory’s Importance for Practice In this changing understanding of concepts, scientific research in nursing is developing, the purpose of which is an objective assessment of all the changes taking place and the choice of the path of development of […]
  • Sociopsychological Theories and Nursing Approaches The primary requirements for quality care are the proper communication between the nurse and the patient, understanding their needs, and the resulting specificity of the assistance.
  • Unfreezing in Nursing Organizational Change Theory The tenet of unfreezing is critical because it “is the process which involves finding a method of making it possible for people to let go of an old pattern that was somehow counterproductive”.
  • Theories Implementation in the Nursing Sphere The most striking manifestation in the profession is the interpretation of the role of the nurse as a transcultural and humanistic professional whose activity is aimed at serving all people.
  • Aspects of Leininger’s Nursing Theory That makes one think that Leininger’s theory knowledge and commitment to it is essential to one’s health and, subsequently, providing care for others.
  • Integration of Metaparadigm Concepts in Nursing Theory Although the theory of nursing integrates the four meta paradigms the interest of this paper is health and nursing concepts. The nursing theory incorporates the health metaparadigm by taking a holistic approach to the treatment […]
  • Importance of Theory in Nursing The profession of nursing highly involves interpersonal skills, which may significantly influence the relationship between the clinician and the patient, resulting in better physiological and physical wellness as well as better outcomes.
  • Connecting Nursing Theory and Evidence-Based Change Model for DPI Project These include the use of the old and new testament, the union of the father, son, and the holy spirit, man created in the likeness of God, the regeneration of the holy spirit, and salvation […]
  • Nursing Profession: Definition and Theories For instance, understanding the definition of nursing helps to understand the purpose of a nurse. This course helped me realize the applications of nursing theory to practice.
  • Peplau’s Middle-Range Theory in Mental Health Nursing This paper addresses the topic of nursing theory by reviewing current research pertaining to hypothetico-deductive reasoning, suggesting the model’s potential value in the research of nurse education techniques and barriers to decision-making, and discussing the […]
  • Change Theories: Influencing Change in Nursing Unlike Lewin’s approach, Roger’s model is more oriented towards the staff’s response and acceptance of the change through the gradual shifting process.
  • Commitment to Health Theory in Nursing Practice This theory assumes the development of an internal state, as well as the acceptance of the desire to lead a healthy lifestyle under the conditions that any circumstances may limit a person.
  • Psychosocial Theory in Nursing This essay analysis how social support relates to Practice Improvement Project that applies the teach-back method to assist patients with hypertension understand the condition and maintain their blood pressure.
  • Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory Use in Nursing Practice In the next phase, orientation, the patient became more confident and able to discuss the problem after I assured him of my complete discretion.
  • Nursing Article on Orem’s Theory in Practice The study aimed to find out the global understanding of the philosophy of this theory and how the theory is applied to patient management in practice.
  • The Peplau’s Theory in Nursing Practice The outcomes proved the correlation between the efficiency of the developed initiative and the principles of the theory, which means that the latter provides sufficient support for such experiments.
  • Dorothy Johnson and Martha Rogers: Concept Comparison of Nursing Theories There are three main requirements of the nursing treatment that should focus on protection from harmful influence, motivation from growth, and insurance of a nurturing environment.
  • Use of Psychosocial Theories in Nursing Therefore, it is vital to examine the application of social and behavioral theories to the operations of healthcare facilities in practice by considering the case of the 65-year-old woman admitted for a mastectomy.
  • Selecting a Theoretical Framework in Nursing For example, in the study “Analysis of the UCSF Symptom Management Theory: Implications for Pediatric Oncology Nursing,” Linder uses the Symptom Management Theory in the field of pediatric oncology.
  • Integral Nursing and Role Modeling Theories It must pay attention to maintaining human health, improving the quality of life, and solving problems related to the health of a person, family, groups of people, and the whole society.
  • Change Theory in Inpatient Nursing Therefore, the nurses have to adapt to the increased activities in the facilities and also to ensure that the clients are satisfied with the services.
  • Nursing: System Theory and Leadership Most of the time, patients confuse things and may give false information that may result in the provision of different healthcare instead of the expected one.
  • American Idol Nursing Theory Contest According to this theory, the nurses have the task of recognizing the role culture plays in the health of the patient.
  • Nursing: Problems, Theories and Practice X and his wife the technique of injecting the insulin subcutaneously, the dosage, the time to have it because he was on the 70:30 mixtard preparations and how to properly plan for his meals.
  • Nursing Theorist: The Roy Adaptation Model A question that a nurse attending to Linda may ask herself in relation to Roy’s perspective of the physiologic need includes is; does the condition of asthma impair Linda’s oxygenation?
  • The Theory of Comfort in Nursing It was during Kolcaba’s master studies that she took a position of a head-nurse in an Alzheimer’s unit and became interested in the outcomes of comfort, and decided to impart a theoretical shape to the […]
  • Nursing Theory Plan of Care Overview In this plan, the patient will play a central role in ensuring that he remains in good health, just as stated in the above theory.
  • The Issue of Nursing Theories Being a very important part of modern medicine, nursing as a science obviously has a great number of different theories which main aim is to increase the level of knowledge of people who work in […]
  • Patricia Benner as a Nursing Theorist The work summarizes the key points of Patricia Benner’s article that discloses the peculiarities of contrastive proficiency levels. The distinguished scholar strives to prove that proficiency levels can represent a ladder of success.
  • The Comfort Theory of Nursing Used in Education This essay aims to describe the Comfort Theory of Nursing and the use of the theory in addressing problems encountered in nursing education.
  • Grand Theories Application in Nursing Discipline It can also be described as a structured and systematic enunciation of reports related to the queries encountered in the nursing discipline. In addition, the nurse can be accused of ignorance and having a strained […]
  • Middle-Range Theories Used in Nursing Profession In the healthcare field, nurses work their level best to promote patient satisfaction and improve the quality of care provided. One strategy to deal with the problem involves the use of the theory of nursing […]
  • The Importance of Incorporating Nursing Theory In the case of hand hygiene, attribution theory may be used to explain the hand hygiene behaviors of the health workers.
  • Nursing Research: Models and Theories Content validity is the ability of the contents of a research study to relate with the contents of a certain construct.
  • Analyzing Nursing Theories Through Microscope Approach In order to get to a solution, the theorists highlighted the problem and the causes of the problem in the patient.
  • Middle Range Nursing Theory: Medication Adherence Model This paper looks at the theory in terms of its scope, the context within which it developed the content of the theory, the significance of the theory, internal consistency within the theory, the testability of […]
  • The Essence of Family Nursing Theories The essence of the family nursing approach is that the nurse communicates with all family members, even if providing care for only one of them. This approach is justified since family members can support each other when facing complex or difficult diagnoses (Bell, 2016). Also, acquaintance with all family members and their medical history helps […]
  • Is Nursing Theory Important to the Nursing Profession? Nursing was recognized as a science, and instead of a traditional model of learning from more experienced nurses, a science-based approach to the training of the would-be specialists in this occupation was implemented. Indeed, theoretical […]
  • From Novice to Expert Nursing Theory by Patricia Benner To do that, the author’s goal is to define the difference between a theory and a philosophy and to the stages of epistemological process occurring in the health care environment.
  • Nursing Theory and Personal Philosophy The task of a nurse is to develop and follow moral philosophy that is concerned with establishing a standard of correctness by the prescription of certain rules and principles.
  • Theories and Hypotheses in Nursing Research I believe a theory in the nursing field aims to improve understanding of the process of medical care to provide the best service for patients ultimately. Without theory, it would be challenging to make real […]
  • Nursing Theory Guiding Clinical Practice Finally, the main goal of week 10 will be to improve my application and understanding of terms, concepts, and principles related to women’s health.
  • Nursing Theories: Outcomes and Reflection For this event, I examined the role of nursing leadership in healthcare and its implementation into interprofessional collaboration to improve patient-centered care.
  • Theory Development in Nursing This paper will consider the role of Nightingale in the formation of the nursing profession, discuss a study based on her theory, and analyze the relationship among theory, research, and practice.
  • Nursing Theories of Henderson and Orem: The Modern Value In the first place, these two figures focused on the input of the patient care theory, which allowed them to constitute theories of nursing process and self-care deficit, respectively.
  • The Criteria of Theory Evaluation and Grand Nursing Theory The goal of this paper is to discuss the criteria of theory evaluation and use them to analyze a grand nursing theory.
  • Nursing Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality The nursing theory that I utilized during my practice experience was the Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality. The Culture Care Theory focuses on the uniqueness of each human being and the importance of […]
  • Nursing Theories: Critique of the Statement Therefore, when one nursing theory is applied to the whole education process, it seems to be easy to understand the essence of nursing and follow clear instructions and guidelines.
  • Dorothea Orem’s Theory in Personal Nursing Practice This journal entry defines the theory of Dorothea Orem, determines the achievement of goals set initially, and explains the use of seven domains of practice in the context of personal nursing practice.
  • The Patient-Centered Nursing: Application of Theory The patient-centered nursing model guides practitioners to respond to patients’ conditions and health using personalized care delivery procedures. This model meets the generalizability test since it is applicable in different fields, scenarios, and settings to […]
  • Self-Determination Theory in Nursing Work Area This may be necessary to enhance the performance of the workers, but it also destroys their passion and the zeal that they have.
  • Nursing Theory: Evidence-Based Practice The nursing model that can be used as a framework to promote the management of the identified issue is patient-centered care.
  • Applying Borrowed Theories to the Nursing Profession With the application of such a theory, it can be possible to introduce superior procedures, behaviors, and cultural attributes that will streamline existing nursing practices.
  • Spirit: Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing The word spirit is used in reference to the part of a human being that is associated with the mind, will, and feelings.
  • The Importance of Nursing Theories in Nursing Education
  • How Incorporates the Concepts From the Nursing Theory Into the Nursing Curriculum
  • How Does Nursing Theory Affect the Practice of Nursing
  • Deliberative Process Nursing Theory for End of Life Care
  • Nursing Theory Application and Integration of Synergy Care Model
  • Using Nursing Theory and Framework for Critical Thinking Endeavors
  • Nursing Theory and Its Effect on Quality Improvement and Healthcare Practice
  • The Five Essential Components of Florence Nightingale’s Theory of Nursing
  • Nursing Theory: Florence Nightingale’s Contribution to Nursing
  • The Relationships Between Nursing Theory and Practice
  • Nursing Theory for Music Therapy Quality Improvement Program
  • Impact of Margaret Newman’s Nursing Theory on Pediatric Setting
  • The Ethical Dilemma of Grand Nursing Theories
  • Why Is Nursing Theory Important in Nursing Education
  • Description of Nursing Theory Madeleine Hubble of Diversity Cultural Care
  • Nursing Theory and the Importance of Domestic Violence Screening and Intervention
  • The Differences and Similarities Between Hildegard Peplau’s and Jean Watson’s Nursing Theory
  • The Ultimate Goal of Nursing Theory
  • The Theories of Florence Nightingale in Nursing in Modern Times
  • Levels of Theoretical Thinking in Nursing Theory
  • Comparative Analysis of Watson’s and Orem’s Nursing Theory
  • Debate the Connection Between Nursing Theory and Evidence-Based Practice
  • Nursing Theory: Foundation for Nursing as a Profession
  • Types of Nursing Theories: Concepts, Levels, and Uses
  • Developing Nursing Theory Using Triangulation of Concepts
  • Why Nursing Theories Are Organized Concepts That Guide Nursing Practice
  • Applying on Practice Virginia Henderson’s Nursing Theory
  • Florence Nightingale’s Theory: Theories and Aspects of the Nursing Theory
  • The Influence of Grand Nursing Theories
  • The Most Common Nursing Theories to Know
  • The Usefulness of the Nursing Theory-Guided Practice
  • Choosing and Implementing a Nursing Theory in Practice
  • Result of Practice, Knowledge, and Nursing Theory’s Role in Future Work
  • Hildegard Peplau’s Theory and Its Importance of Nursing Theory
  • Relationship Between Metaparadigm Theory of Nursing and Ana’s Definition of Nursing
  • Nursing Theory in Hospital Models of Care
  • King’s Theory and Theory of Conceptual System in Nursing
  • The Effect of Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory on Community
  • Nursing Theory in 21st Century Healthcare
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208 Nursing Theory Essay Topics

🏆 best essay topics on nursing theory, ✍️ nursing theory essay topics for college, 👍 good nursing theory research topics & essay examples, 🌶️ hot nursing theory ideas to write about, 🎓 most interesting nursing theory research titles, 💡 simple nursing theory essay ideas, 📌 easy nursing theory essay topics.

  • Motivational Theories in Nursing
  • Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory and Concepts
  • Dorothea Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory in Nursing
  • Jean Watson’s Nursing Theory and Application Strategies
  • Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory Role in Nursing
  • Kotter’s Change Management Theory in Nursing Practice
  • Nursing: Human Becoming Theory by Rosemarie Parse
  • Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory in Nursing Practice The self-care deficit theory was formulated by Dorothea Orem in 2001 and has become of the most popular nursing theories in contemporary practice and education.
  • Nursing Theory of Virginia Henderson Virginia Avenel Henderson was born on November 30, 1897, in Kansas City, MO. She graduated from the U.S. Army School of Nursing in 1921.
  • Virginia Henderson’s Need Theory in Nursing For the purpose of the current discussion, it was chosen to focus on Virginia Henderson’s Need Theory that was developed to enhance the level of patients’ independence.
  • Helvie Energy Theory of Nursing and Health The objective of this paper is to pay specific attention to the concept of the environment, as viewed in the energy theory of health and nursing developed by Carl Helvie.
  • Application of Herzberg’s Theory in Nursing Herzberg’s theory provides a good platform for the action, as that theory equips nurses with motivations for the roles and responsibilities they carry out.
  • Madeleine Leininger’s Theory of Transcultural Nursing A nursing theory turns out to be a group of significant related concepts and relationships the purpose of which is to guide practice and promote the delivery of care.
  • Peplau’s Interpersonal Theory – Interpersonal Relations in Nursing The interpersonal theory was developed by psychiatric-mental health nurse Hildegard Peplau. The theory emphasizes the importance of nurse-patient communication.
  • Henderson’s Nursing Need Theory and Its Application This discussion focuses on Henderson’s Need Theory and its application to professional practice in improving telehealth through choosing appropriate specialists.
  • Nursing Theory of Music, Mood, and Movement by Murrock and Higgins The purpose of this paper is to give a detailed description and analysis of the nursing theory of music, mood, and movement by Murrock and Higgins.
  • Nursing Theories Differences: High-Range, Middle-Range, and Low-Range Nursing Theories Nursing is a constantly developing profession. Nowadays, nurses obtain unique knowledge and skills that are based on profound scientific research.
  • Nursing in the Maternal Role Attainment Theory The meta-paradigm of nursing in Ramona Mercer’s Maternal Role Attainment Theory is concerned with the health of nontraditional mothers who have an insufficient maternal identity.
  • Barrett’s Power Theory and Change in Nursing There are many ways of how to use power in the field of nursing. Barrett offers to determine it as a possibility to participate in organizational change knowingly.
  • The Concept of Human Needs Theory in Nursing The theory suggests that a nurse should keep the focus on all domains of an individual’s life so that the services of the required quality should be provided.
  • Betty Neuman’s Systems Theory of Nursing The Nueman systems model, a contemporary nursing theory, is a comprehensive guide for various fields of nursing such as practice, education, research as well as administration.
  • Anne Boykin’s Theory of Nursing as Caring This paper includes a brief description of the Boykin framework’s major concepts, its application to health care, and the role Anne Boykin played in the theory’s development.
  • Nursing: Transitions Theory by Afaf Ibrahim Meleis The transitions theory is the result of long and serious work that Afaf Ibrahim Meleis began in the mid-1960s and ended in the 1980s.
  • Virginia Henderson Nursing Need Theory This work was written for familiarization with Virginia Henderson Nursing Need Theory – theory description, an evaluation of the theory, and application.
  • Henderson Nursing Theory Applied to Care for Adolescent Mothers Henderson’s theory claims that nurses should assist patients in the performance of daily activities but do such a way as to help them gain independence.
  • Nursing Theoretical Frameworks: Joyce Travelbee’s Human-To-Human Relationship Model In contemporary nursing science, there are numerous theoretical frameworks of various types, each describing a unique approach to caregiving.
  • Middle Range Nursing Theories This paper will describe the value, worth, and significance of the middle range theory of nurses’ psychological trauma to the practice.
  • Nursing Change Theory and the Diffusion of Innovation Model A considerable part of the United States gross domestic product devoted to health care does not result in satisfactory outcomes.
  • Virginia Henderson Theory: 14 Needs of Patients Nursing is a unique sphere of knowledge which is aimed at delivering care to people who suffer from different illnesses.
  • Nursing Theory of Vigilance and Its Values Caring is one of the fundamental requirements that all professions are required to provide. Professional vigilance is the most important aspect of nursing care.
  • The Importance of Theory in Nursing This paper explores King’s Theory of Goal Attainment insofar as its contribution to the nursing profession is concerned.
  • Virginia Henderson’s Nursing Need Theory: Concept Analysis The concept that presented in this paper is extracted from the Virginia Henderson’s Nursing Need Theory. This paper will analyze the concept of environment in seven separate parts.
  • Nursing Critique: Comfort Theory Katharine Kolcaba’s comfort theory focuses on providing comfort as one of the main purposes of nursing care along with patient safety and patient satisfaction.
  • Nursing: Kotter’s Change Model Theory Kotter’s Change Model through the Bedside Handoff Initiative can help nurse leaders change the way patient information is transferred from one nurse to the next.
  • Betty Smith Williams Reinventing the Theory and Practice of Nursing Defining the revolutionaries in nursing, one must mention Betty Smith Williams as one of the most prominent contemporary contributors to the development thereof.
  • From Novice to Expert: Nursing Theory The paper analyzes Patricia Sawyer Benner’s theory of From Novice to Expert. It describes this scholar’s background and the importance of her model in the field of nursing.
  • Afaf Meleis’ Transitions Theory in Nursing Meleis’ Transitions Theory is extraordinarily helpful for patients that experience difficulty changing the family dynamics to promote the health and support of the family members.
  • Importance of the Middle-Range Theory in Nursing This paper describes the middle-range theory, with specific reference to Jean Watson’s theory of human caring.
  • Virginia Henderson’s Theory Impact on Nursing Henderson’s work can be viewed as a fundamental principle of nursing practice as her definition and theory of clinical practice structured the authentic development of nursing.
  • Learning Theories of Nursing Practice and Training The chosen case study introduces a new female nurse who has to develop a training course for hospital volunteers.
  • Impacts of Grand and Middle-Range Theories on Nursing Practice As the examples of the analyzed grand theory of self-care and middle-range theory of comfort indicate, theories may also target distinct aspects of nursing.
  • Obesity Issue: Application of Nursing Theory This analysis will show that well-established theories are valuable to nursing problem-solving as frameworks for analyzing issues and planning solutions.
  • Dorothea Orem’s Nursing Theory of Care Among the grand nursing theories of care, the work of Dorothea Orem stands out as one of the most recognized and applied models in healthcare.
  • Nursing Theories Variety, Its Pros and Cons It was not until 1950s that first nursing theories began to be formulated and applied to nursing practice after many centuries of tradition-based experimental learning.
  • Occupational Health Nursing Theory and Model This article explores an occupational health nursing model and how it can be applied to nursing practice, nursing research, nursing leadership, and nursing management.
  • Transcultural Nursing vs. Henderson’s Need Theory This paper aims to compare two nursing theories (Virginia Henderson’s Need Theory and Transcultural Nursing Theory) and their applications in nursing practice.
  • The Integration of Theory into Nursing Practice The integration of theory into nursing practice can be discussed as a challenging process because many nurses do not understand the role of theory in their work.
  • Henderson’s Nursing Need Theory The paper states that Virginia Henderson’s nursing need theory is an essential concept that has given rise to many other nursing models.
  • Patricia Benner’s Nursing Theory The theory explains how “practical knowledge produces new ideas in applied disciplines such as nursing and medicine”.
  • The Concept of Johnson’s Nursing Care Theory In order to provide comprehensive care, junior medical personnel uses various nursing models aimed at meeting specific patient needs and differing in the nature of interventions.
  • Analysis of Orem’s Nursing Theory The self-care deficit theory is a grand theory that was elaborated by Dorothea Orem to enhance nursing education and practice.
  • Nursing: Low Middle-Range Theories The paper discusses that low middle-range theories are closer to practice theories that are known as prescriptive. They can be applied only in concrete situations.
  • Using the Systems Theory in Solving Problems in Nursing The purpose of this paper is to investigate the selected practice problem by using the Systems Theory and evaluate it by applying such major theoretical constructs as inputs, throughputs, and negative feedback.
  • Benner’s Nursing Theory “From Novice to Expert” The nursing theory “From Novice to Expert” by Patricia Benner is among the easiest to comprehend. The author presents five levels of nursing experience.
  • Nursing Theory: Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing High-quality nursing care is the goal that has to be achieved, and if the application of a nursing theory is the way to enhance the health of people, it has to be discussed thoroughly.
  • Analysis of Nursing Comfort Theory The Nursing Comfort Theory can make it easier for caregivers and RNs to support the changing health needs of patients from diverse backgrounds.
  • Leininger’s Nursing Theory in Application Nursing education and training institutions should ensure that future nurses are capable of delivering effective care depending on patients’ unique circumstances.
  • Concept Comparison and Analysis across Nursing Theories The theories have been adopted by several institutions, which include learning institutions, research centers and health centers.
  • Comparison of Nursing Theories: Orem’s Self-Care Theory and the Neuman’s System Model The current paper will focus on comparing two nursing theories, Orem’s Self-Care Theory and the Neuman’s system model.
  • Marlaine Smith’s Nursing Theory of Unitary Caring By adopting the principles of the Unitary Caring Theory and combining them with the concept of the human being as a unitary phenomenon, one will help the patient to reconcile with a loss.
  • Leininger’s Culture Care Theory in Nursing Practice Leininger’s Culture Care Diversity Theory or the Culture Care Theory (CCT) is a concept that defines transcultural features of different natures.
  • Need Theory vs. Transcultural Nursing Theory Nursing theories form a crucial foundation for nursing practice and education as they review the key nursing concepts and provide tools to improve patient care.
  • Madeleine Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing Theory Transcultural Nursing Theory by Madeleine Leininger is a powerful model for understanding and addressing the diversity experienced in nursing.
  • Overview and Analysis of Nursing Theory This paper will concentrate on analyzing nursing theory, its importance, characteristics, and its standard concepts.
  • Nursing Theories: Concept Comparison and Analysis Across Theories The paper seeks to compare Rosemary Parse’s theory of human becoming with Jean Watson’s model of Science and Philosophy of caring.
  • Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring Its Application in Nursing Practice The purpose of this paper is to discuss the theory of human caring that was put forward by Jean Watson and describe its application in nursing practice.
  • Personal Nursing Philosophy and Benner’s Theory The conceptual basis for my personal nursing philosophy was designed on the basis of Patricia Benner’s theory of caring and clinical wisdom.
  • Betty Neuman’s Theory and Implementation in Nursing This paper identifies one assumption of Betty Neuman’s systems model theory and studies ways to implement it in nursing care practices by using an example.
  • Integral Nursing Theory in Master’s Education Theory of Integral Nursing is a model that gives a global perspective on how to address the wellbeing of nurses, healthcare systems, communities and families, and patients.
  • Transformational Leadership and Theory Y in Nursing Leadership refers to the use of skills, knowledge, and character traits of an individual with the goal of achieving mutually negotiated outcomes.
  • Conservation of Resources Theory: Nursing This paper discusses the concept of burnout in nursing, which can be accurately addressed in the Conservation of Resources theory.
  • Interpersonal Relations Theory in Nursing Nurses have the power to influence patients’ outcomes. This approach correlates with the Theory of Interpersonal Relations, which is a crucial part of nursing practice.
  • Analysis of Economic Theory in Nursing Economic theory mainly studies how people make decisions in strict financial and resource-dependant circumstances.
  • Nursing Theories of Watson, Nightingale et al. Humans are the key emphasis of nursing care. According to Orem’s theory, persons’ environments influence their health.
  • Role, Conflict, Social Exchange Theories in Nursing Role theory, conflict theory, and social exchange theory should be discussed in the case of the nurse that is regularly challenged to prove her self-worth and skills.
  • Virginia Henderson as a Nursing Theorist Virginia Henderson, the architect of nursing, made a huge contribution to the theory, practice, education, and research in the field of nursing.
  • Imogene King’s Theory of Goal Attainment in Nursing The paper is intended to discuss how the theory of goal attainment developed by Imogene King can be implicated in a person’s nursing career in a clinical field.
  • Madeleine Leininger’s Culture Care Theory in Nursing Madeleine Leininger’s culture care theory emphasizes the importance of nurses acknowledging and respecting the cultural variations of patients in nursing practice.
  • Application of Middle Range Theory to Problem in Nursing This paper discusses the most applicable middle-range theory and the use of the theory to address issues concerning nurse staffing.
  • Nursing Need Theory in the Contemporary World The paper focuses on explaining Nursing Need Theory, its relevance to nurses, and how it is applied in the contemporary world of nursing.
  • Maternal Health Nursing Theories and Practice Maternal health nursing is an important nurse practice, it is a very complex subject, with a lot of practical and theoretical studies behind it.
  • Nightingale’s Environmental Nursing Theory Nightingale’s environmental theory is a vital nursing theory that discusses the impact of the physical healthcare setting on patient health.
  • The Use of Self-Transcendence Theory in Nursing Possible interventions based on the Self-Transcendence Theory may include nursing activities that encourage Mrs. Richards’ self-reflection, altruistic actions, faith, and hope.
  • Personal Nursing Philosophy and Theoretical Foundation All professionals have a certain philosophy that shapes their way they make decisions. This paper includes a short description philosophy of nursing and its theoretical foundation.
  • Watson’s Care Theory and Its Application in Nursing Jean Watson’s philosophy of nursing emphasizes creating a caring and loving environment in order to facilitate effective healing processes.
  • The Nursing Need Theory by Virginia Henderson Virginia Henderson’s theory is frequently referred to as the Nursing Need Theory. She argued that the nurses care for the patient until he or she gains independence.
  • Chaos Change Theory in Nursing A paper indicates a steady increase in nurses’ resignations, identifies resources for retaining staff, and analyzes the reasons why nurses leave their workplace.
  • Theory Core Nursing Courses, Description, and Sample Syllabus This essay identifies and describes the core courses for the BSN programme. The paper goes further to give a sample syllabus for one of the core courses.
  • Nursing Theory: The Health Belief Model The purpose of this paper is to discuss the nursing theory relevant to the approved clinical issue, which is the prevention of falls in senior patients.
  • Theoretical Foundations of Nursing: Self-concept Nursing is a dynamic profession considering that professional standards, objectives, and goals are bound to change relative to patient needs and the availability of resources.
  • Applying Theory to a Practice Problem in Nursing Nursing is an expansive discipline within the health sector, which encompasses collaborative and autonomous care of sick or healthy people in various settings.
  • Change Theories in Nursing Change is a critical element of nursing that helps to reconsider a problematic situation and introduce an effective solution to achieve positive results.
  • The Concept of Self-Care Deficit Theory of Nursing This paper aims to analyze the major concepts of the self-care deficit theory, its application in clinical practice, and theory relevance to contemporary healthcare as a whole and patients in particular.
  • Nursing Theories Comparison: Hildegard Peplau` Theory and Ida Jean Orlando’s Deliberative Nursing Theory In the modern health care sector nursing can be considered one of the central pillars that support its development, effective functioning, and positive outcomes.
  • Jean Watson’s Nursing Theory of Human Caring Jean Watson’s theory of human caring one of the most valuable nursing approaches. The incorporated principles include equality, spiritual care, friendliness, and kindness.
  • Conflict Theory in Nursing Practice This reflective journal entry elaborates on some issues that nurses face in their daily practice, and what theories can support them when resolving the arising problems.
  • Leininger’s Theory in Undergraduate Nursing Studies The paper includes sections concerning the importance of nursing theory, major features of Leininger’s theory as well as its application to specific professional nursing practice.
  • Orem’s Nursing Model: Self-Care Deficit Theory As the concept for analysis, Orem’s model of nursing will be considered. Its second name is The Self-Care Deficit Theory.
  • Theory of Interpersonal Nursing Peplau’s theory of interpersonal nursing emphasizes the importance of therapeutic relationships in influencing patient outcomes, and guiding nursing practice and research.
  • Nursing Theory in Practice Examples Nursing theories provide fundamental nursing information. Nursing professionals need theory-based knowledge that is critical in achieving outcomes.
  • Concept Comparison and Analysis: Nursing Theorists The theorists view nursing from different perspectives. This paper discusses nursing theories developed by the theorist; comparing and contrasting their concepts on nursing.
  • Metaparadigm and Theoretical Framework in Nursing This research work will look at the nursing theory and how the nursing theory can provide guidance in many nursing practice situations.
  • Fay Abdella’s Twenty-One Nursing Problems Theory A nursing theory used in this paper is Fay Abdella’s Twenty One Nursing Problems, which contains 21 statements about the tasks and responsibilities of a nurse.
  • Evidence-Based Practice, Paradigms, and Theories in Nursing The multifaceted nature of human health as the main subject of nursing science causes a multifaceted paradigmatic nature of nursing.
  • Leadership Styles and Theories in Nursing This paper discusses which potential implications for individual practice and professional development different leadership styles may have.
  • Self-Care Deficit Theory and Nursing Philosophy The purpose of the present paper is to outline my personal nursing philosophy and relate it to Orem’s Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory.
  • Patricia Sawyer Benner’s Nursing Theory Several theories have been presented to guide and inform nursing practice. One of these theories is known as From Novice to Expert. The theory was developed by Patricia Sawyer Benner.
  • Nursing Theory and Practice Newly employed nurses may have difficulties while applying their knowledge to real-life situations due to the gap between theory and practice.
  • Nightingale’s Nursing Theory and Millennium Goals Helping nurses build their experience and use it successfully, Nightingale created the philosophy of nursing that suggested measuring the effect of a strategy by its outcomes.
  • Social Cognitive Theory in Advanced Nursing Practice One of the behavior change theories that have been employed in advanced nursing practice is the social cognitive theory.
  • Nursing Modeling and Role-Modeling Theory The purpose of this paper is to review one of the main adaptation theories and to analyze my personal experience in terms of the process of transition.
  • Transcultural Nursing Theory by Madeleine Leininger This paper analysis the articles Albougami, Pounds, Alotaibi, and Busher Betancourt about transcultural nursing theory by Madeleine Leininger.
  • The Nursing Education Project Theoretical Framework The project aims to increase the satisfaction of newly graduated nurses with their preceptors by applying Knowles’s theory of adult learning to enhance preceptor education.
  • Nursing: The Theory of Human Caring The Theory of Human Caring is effective when applied by APNs since it helps overcome difficulties in building a close relationship and connection with the patient.
  • Family Nursing Theories and Concepts Family nursing utilizes many concepts and is ingrained in numerous Nursing Theories. One of the most important concepts is the perspective of recognizing the family’s strengths.
  • Leadership Theories in Nursing Practice Contingency leadership and transformational leadership theories both focus on investigating components of relative climate, which may impact the productivity of administration.
  • Use of Nursing Theory in Practice Nursing theory, research and nursing practice are closely interconnected. The nursing practice is impossible without research, which, in its way, is impossible without nursing theory.
  • Nursing Philosophies, Models, and Theories in Preventing Respiratory Complications The paper provides an overview of nursing philosophies, models, and theories on preventing respiratory complications in patients undergoing interventional radiological procedures.
  • Analysis of Nursing Theory Concept Madeleine’s background contributed a lot to her nursing theory. Her background also played a major role towards the development of the Culture Care Theory.
  • Socialization and Nursing Theories in Practice This work discusses how nurses and patients socialize at Jackson Health System while the second part analyzes the impact of nursing theories on the performance of nurses.
  • Nursing Philosophies and Health and Care Theories The philosophy of nursing has to begin with a prayer in memory of Florence Nightingale whose rich heritage and writings made the profession an indispensable one in society.
  • Philosophy of Nursing: Emotional Intelligence Theory Emotional intelligence theory state that health care promotion should be performed with dedication to the ideals of nursing care, including honest respect and proper treatment.
  • Science-Based Theories in Nursing Science-based theories in nursing represents an opportunity for nurses to combine experience-associated knowledge with evidence developed based on scientific rigor.
  • Nursing: Rosemarie Parse’s Human Becoming Theory Rosemarie Parse exists in the category of renowned nurse theorists whose proposals remain unverifiable and untestable, despite staying established in nursing practice.
  • Health-Based and Non-Nursing Theories in Examples This paper shows an example of a health-based theory and a non-nursing theory, their application to health and behavior, and their strengths and limitations.
  • F. Nightingale’s Environmental Nursing Theory While working as a nurse, Nightingale noticed that environmental conditions affected the rate at which patients died following injuries sustained during the Crimean War.
  • Jean Watson as a Nursing Theorist Jean Watson is one of the outstanding nursing professionals on whose work this paper will focus. Her theory of human caring is one of the most popular nursing methods.
  • Advanced Nursing Practice and Theoretical Frameworks The Nursing Process Theory developed by Ida Jean Orland is aimed towards patient interactions. Its dimensions are applicable to the general nursing role.
  • Nursing Guides Theories: Nola J. Pender’s Health Promotion Model and Parse’s Theoretical Perspective The development of Rosemarie Rizzo Parse’s theoretical perspective has helped to frame nursing knowledge. Nursing is human art and science that uses evidence-based knowledge.
  • Nursing: Aspects of Comfort Theory Kolkaba’s comfort theory is that he considers the comfort of the patient as the main component. This helps people alleviate their psychological state.
  • Theoretical Model of Health in Advanced Nursing Health is the most valuable asset that one can have and, therefore, understanding health and associated problems is crucial for acknowledging the critical concepts of health.
  • Family Value and Nursing Theories The importance of family nursing practices was not recognized until late twentieth century when the need for family nursing became a burning issue for the system of health care.
  • Jean Watson Theory and Nursing This research paper focuses on Jean Watson theory, by synthesizing various aspects, including the development of the theory, how nursing is conceptualized in the theory.
  • “Towards an Alternative to Benner’s Theory of Expert Intuition in Nursing” Article by Gobet et al. This paper discusses nursing theory based on the article “Towards an alternative to Benner’s theory of expert intuition in nursing: A discussion paper.”
  • Theoretical Basis for Nursing The successful nursing practice assumes respecting the individual peculiarities of each person, understanding and valuing him or her, and providing the needed assistance and care.
  • Nursing Intellectual Capital Theory Intellectual capital is a theory that focuses on the collective knowledge of individuals and the structures that are present in a given organization.
  • Application of Conceptual Models and Theories in the Field of Nursing Theories and models used in nursing practice provide a clear understanding of all the requirements that make the profession successful.
  • Development of Nursing Theory According to Tobbell The development of nursing theory has become one of the fundamental factors contributing to the emergence of useful and valuable approaches to patient care and conducting relevant research.
  • Analysis of Orem’s Nursing Theory Under Concept The concept of self-care remains critical in the field of healthcare. Concept analysis remains a powerful strategy for ensuring that users of a specified theory understand it.
  • Dorothea Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory
  • Pediatric Obesity and Self-Care Nursing Theory
  • Personal Nursing Philosophy and Katie Eriksson’s Theory
  • Systems Theory in Nursing Department
  • Nursing: Cultural Theories and Conceptual Frameworks
  • Nursing and a Non-Nursing Theories Combination
  • Jean Watson’s Nursing as Caring Theory
  • Nightingale’s Nursing Theory and Global Health
  • Nursing Empowerment in the Interpersonal Theory
  • Theory of Integral Nursing
  • Dorothea Orem and the Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory
  • Patient Recovery in Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory
  • Nursing Theories in Adolescents Issues Treatment
  • Nursing Presenteeism in the Operating Room and Self-Determination Theory
  • Nursing Theories and Approaches in Practice
  • Correctional Nursing Stress Theory of Adaptation and Resilience
  • Nursing Theory: Application of the Self-Care Theory
  • Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring and Nursing
  • The Compliance of Nursing Theories for a Healthy Environment
  • Nursing: Life Cycle Change Theory
  • Adult Nursing Theories, Practice and Health Promotion
  • Grand Nursing Theorist Dorothea Orem
  • Watson’s Theory to the Nursing Process
  • Nursing Theory-Practice Guided
  • Grand Nursing Theorist Report and Its Impact in Modern Nursing Care
  • Comparison and Contrasting of Nursing Theories: Elisabeth Kubler-ross and Hildegard Peplau
  • Applying Middle Range Nursing Theories
  • Middle-Range Theories in Nursing Practice
  • Science-Based Theories and Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Structure of Theory in Nursing
  • Theory Building in Nursing
  • The Self-Care Deficit Theory of Nursing
  • The Theory of Comfort in Nursing
  • Nursing Theories: Personal Nursing Philosophy
  • Personal Nursing Philosophy Based on Orem’s Theory
  • Personal Nursing Philosophy Based on Peplau’s Theory
  • Various Nursing Theories of Practice
  • Madeleine Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing Care Theory
  • Pelletier and Peplau’s Nursing Theories Comparison
  • Theories and Quality Improvement in Nursing
  • Interpersonal Relations Theory and Essential of Nursing Education
  • Florence Nightingale’s and Jean Watson’s Nursing Theories
  • Theory of Nursing as Caring in Master’s Education
  • King’s Theory of Goal Attainment in Nursing
  • Theory and Research in Nursing
  • Pender’s and Parse’s Theories in Nursing Practice
  • Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing Theory
  • Nursing Theory Development and Its Fundamentals
  • Leininger’s Transcultural Theory in Nursing
  • Madeleine Leininger and Transcultural Nursing Theory
  • Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory
  • Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory in Nursing
  • The Nursing Theory by Dorothea Orem
  • Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory’s Impact on Staff
  • Nursing Change Models and Theories
  • Transformational Theory for Efficient Nursing Services
  • Leadership Theory and Adaptability in Nursing
  • Pender’s Health Model and Parse’s Theory in Nursing
  • Nursing Theory: Johnson’s Behavioral System Model
  • Nursing Theory’s Role in Health Promotion
  • Nursing Theory Comparison: Needs Theory and Transcultural Nursing Theory
  • Self-Care Nursing Deficit Theory
  • Hobfoll’s Conservation of Resources Theory in Nursing
  • Application of Nursing Theory Guidelines
  • Jean Watson’s Theory of Nursing Care
  • Peplau’s Interpersonal Theory in Nursing Practice
  • Palliative Care and Humanistic Nursing Theory
  • Undergraduate Nursing Program and Resnick’s Theory

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100 Nursing Theory Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

Nursing theory plays a crucial role in the field of nursing, providing a framework for understanding and addressing various healthcare challenges. As a nursing student, it is important to explore and understand different nursing theories to enhance your knowledge and critical thinking skills.

To help you get started, here are 100 nursing theory essay topic ideas and examples:

  • The importance of nursing theory in practice
  • Florence Nightingale's environmental theory and its relevance in modern healthcare
  • Betty Neuman's systems model and its application in nursing practice
  • The impact of Jean Watson's theory of caring on patient outcomes
  • Dorothea Orem's self-care deficit theory and its implications for nursing practice
  • Madeleine Leininger's cultural care theory and its significance in providing culturally competent care
  • Hildegard Peplau's interpersonal relations theory and its role in nurse-patient relationships
  • The influence of Martha Rogers' science of unitary human beings on holistic nursing care
  • Imogene King's theory of goal attainment and its application in nursing leadership
  • The relevance of Patricia Benner's novice to expert theory in nursing education
  • Virginia Henderson's definition of nursing and its impact on nursing practice
  • The application of Callista Roy's adaptation model in nursing care
  • The significance of Rosemarie Rizzo Parse's human becoming theory in nursing practice
  • The role of Margaret Newman's health as expanding consciousness theory in promoting wellness
  • The impact of Nola Pender's health promotion model on patient education and behavior change
  • The application of Katharine Kolcaba's comfort theory in palliative care
  • The importance of nursing theory in evidence-based practice
  • The integration of nursing theories in developing care plans for patients
  • The role of nursing theory in guiding ethical decision-making in healthcare
  • The influence of nursing theories on nursing research and scholarship
  • The impact of feminist theory on nursing practice and education
  • The relevance of critical theory in addressing social determinants of health
  • The intersection of nursing theory and public health nursing
  • The application of chaos theory in understanding complex healthcare systems
  • The role of complexity theory in nursing leadership and management
  • The influence of attachment theory on infant and child health outcomes
  • The application of behavioral theory in promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors
  • The impact of cognitive theory on patient education and self-management
  • The role of developmental theory in understanding the needs of different patient populations
  • The integration of family systems theory in providing holistic care
  • The relevance of feminist theory in addressing gender disparities in healthcare
  • The intersection of intersectionality theory and cultural competence in nursing practice
  • The influence of social cognitive theory on health behavior change interventions
  • The application of social learning theory in patient education and counseling
  • The impact of systems theory on healthcare organizations and delivery of care
  • The role of trauma theory in understanding and addressing patients' experiences of trauma
  • The importance of resilience theory in promoting mental health and well-being
  • The relevance of self-efficacy theory in empowering patients to manage their health
  • The integration of social support theory in promoting recovery and healing
  • The role of stress and coping theory in addressing patients' emotional and psychological needs
  • The influence of empowerment theory in promoting patient advocacy and empowerment
  • The application of health belief model in understanding patients' health beliefs and behaviors
  • The impact of motivational interviewing in promoting behavior change and adherence to treatment
  • The role of patient-centered care in addressing patients' individual needs and preferences
  • The relevance of person-centered care in promoting patient autonomy and dignity
  • The intersection of cultural humility and cultural competence in providing culturally sensitive care
  • The influence of shared decision-making in promoting collaborative care and patient engagement
  • The application of trauma-informed care in addressing patients' trauma histories and needs
  • The importance of empathy and compassion in nursing care
  • The role of reflective practice in promoting professional growth and development
  • The impact of interdisciplinary collaboration in improving patient outcomes
  • The integration of evidence-based practice in nursing care
  • The relevance of quality improvement in promoting patient safety and satisfaction
  • The intersection of informatics in nursing practice and healthcare delivery
  • The influence of health policy and advocacy in shaping nursing practice and healthcare systems
  • The application of leadership and management principles in nursing practice
  • The role of mentorship and professional development in nursing education
  • The importance of lifelong learning and continuing education in nursing practice
  • The role of self-care and well-being in promoting nurse resilience and job satisfaction
  • The impact of burnout and compassion fatigue on nursing practice and patient care
  • The integration of mindfulness and stress reduction techniques in nursing practice
  • The relevance of emotional intelligence in promoting effective communication and relationships
  • The intersection of cultural competence and humility in providing inclusive and equitable care
  • The influence of social determinants of health on patient outcomes and healthcare disparities
  • The application of health literacy in promoting patient education and empowerment
  • The importance of patient safety and quality improvement in nursing practice
  • The role of teamwork and collaboration in promoting effective healthcare delivery
  • The impact of technology and innovation in nursing practice and patient care
  • The integration of telehealth and virtual care in expanding access to healthcare services
  • The relevance of population health and community nursing in promoting health equity
  • The intersection of global health and nursing practice in addressing global health challenges
  • The influence of environmental health on patient well-being and healthcare outcomes
  • The application of disaster preparedness and response in nursing practice
  • The importance of ethical decision-making in nursing practice and patient care
  • The role of advocacy and social justice in promoting health equity and human rights
  • The impact of healthcare policy and legislation on nursing practice and healthcare systems
  • The integration of interprofessional education and collaboration in improving patient outcomes
  • The relevance of evidence-based practice in nursing research and scholarship
  • The intersection of nursing informatics and technology in healthcare delivery
  • The influence of patient engagement and shared decision-making in healthcare outcomes
  • The application of health promotion and disease prevention in nursing practice
  • The importance of cultural competence and humility in providing patient-centered care
  • The role of trauma-informed care in addressing patients' trauma histories and needs
  • The impact of resilience and self-care in promoting nurse well-being and job satisfaction
  • The integration of quality improvement and patient safety in nursing practice
  • The relevance of leadership and management in nursing practice and healthcare delivery
  • The intersection of ethics and professionalism in nursing practice
  • The application of health disparities and health equity in nursing practice
  • The importance of advocacy and social justice in promoting health equity and human rights
  • The role of evidence-based practice in nursing research and scholarship
  • The impact of nursing informatics and technology in healthcare delivery
  • The relevance of cultural competence and humility in providing patient-centered care
  • The importance of resilience and self-care in promoting nurse well-being and job satisfaction

These are just a few examples of nursing theory essay topics that you can explore in your academic writing. By delving into these topics, you can deepen your understanding of nursing theory and its application in practice, research, and education. Good luck with your essays!

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nursing theory research paper topics

Nursing Topics for Research plus Ideas

nursing theory research paper topics

Writing a good nursing essay, term paper, or research paper begins by finding a list of good nursing research topics and then narrowing it down to a specific topic that interests you the most and aligns with your assignment instructions.

For most nursing students, finding the best nursing topics for research can be challenging and confusing. From our interaction with thousands of students, we have realized many dread choosing a nursing research paper topic when given a chance.

In fact, they prefer being given a list of nursing research paper topics they can choose from, which they suppose makes work easier for them, but that's never the case.

Choosing a good topic is part of the assessment; you must do it well because it can either break or make your final nursing school grade .

You are assigned to write on specific nursing topics when the professor wants you to understand the nursing concepts. We have your back if you are after the best nursing research topics. In this blog article, we have highlighted a list of different nursing topics you can select from for any nursing paper you will be assigned and let you have the freedom to choose a topic on your own. If you are looking for a guide on writing a nursing paper, check our guide for writing a nursing research paper and the blog post on how to write a nursing essay .

We also have advanced guides on writing capstone projects, dissertations, and QI reports; go through them and write a digestible nursing research paper that gives you a maximum score. But first, let's dive into the various topics in nursing you can write a paper about.

Steps for Selecting a Good Nursing Research Topic

Before we go into the details of the research topics in nursing, it would be wise to highlight some of the steps you need to take to identify the best topic. When assigned to write a paper, use these steps to select the best topic:

  • Read the assignment instructions to identify whether you have a predetermined list of nursing topics or can choose one on your own;
  • If you are allowed to select a topic of your choice, begin by identifying the nursing research area you are passionate about;
  • Brainstorm for ideas on this specific area by referring to the course readings, class notes, previous class assignments, nursing topic examples online, and past nursing papers submitted by the cohorts before yours;
  • Narrow down to three main topics by researching your nursing research ideas and eliminating the ones that don't fit the scope of the paper;
  • Again do an elimination based on your research to identify a manageable (has a lot of scholarly resources), engaging, and suitable nursing topic for your nursing paper, and
  • Research widely to identify the best sources to use when exploring your research paper in detail, then write your nursing paper.

As you choose a nursing topic, always remember the following:

  • to pick a topic that falls within your area of interest or the scope of the course;
  • select a topic that you can share as many details without forcing yourself or getting bored;
  • choose a topic that has plenty of credible peer-reviewed nursing sources;
  • the topic should be unique and unexplored, or if it is explored, select a new perspective or approach;
  • the topic should be relevant, fresh, explorative, engaging, meaningful, and original;
  • the topic should be flexible so that you can research and form arguments;
  • focus on topics with concepts, frameworks, or ideas from class;
  • if stuck, ask for help selecting a topic from your instructor or peers;
  • don't choose a topic that is too broad or too narrow; choose a manageable topic;
  • Prioritize considering the latest, current events, or trending nursing research topics so that you can solve issues as they arise in practice.

These tips also apply to nursing research project topics.

List of Nursing Research Topics Organized by Nursing Category

If you find selecting a research topic for your nursing paper challenging, this list of different nursing topics will come in handy. Even the most proficient nursing writers face challenges with choosing topics. But that has never deterred them from writing research papers, essays, and other nursing papers. To get you ahead of everything, consider these top topics in nursing to help you brainstorm fresh nursing research topics ideas. You can also directly pick a topic of interest or slightly tweak any of them and write a good paper.

Adult Nursing Research Topics

  • Impacts of engaging older adult patients through Facebook
  • Gastric decompression in adult patients
  • Role advanced practice nurse in geriatric oncology care
  • Strategies for promoting healthy lifestyles among LGBT older adult patients
  • Moral distress among adult nursing practitioners
  • Impacts of aging on adult health
  • Diagnosis and management of learning disabilities in nursing
  • How nurses can support rehabilitation for home-dwelling adult patients
  • Role of nurses in addressing sigma for adults living with HIV/AIDS
  • Prevalence of hypertension among young adults
  • Managing T2DM among young black American adults
  • Impacts of malnutrition among elderly adults
  • Role of nurses in addressing domestic violence
  • Treatment and management of Asthma among adult patients
  • Treatment of acute coronary syndrome among adult patients
  • Strategies to prevent dehydration among elderly patients
  • Impacts of age on the immune system and the skin of adults
  • Strategies to address obesity among adults
  • Oral care among elderly adults in the USA
  • Treatment of anxiety and depression among adults
  • Treatment and management of COPD
  • Pain management strategies for adult patients
  • Ethical issues facing nurses that handle adult patients
  • Strategies to promote weight loss and management among adult patients
  • Impacts of colon cancer screening among adults

Child Nursing Research Topics

  • Diagnosis, treatment, and management of ADHD in children
  • Causes and management of seizures among children
  • Nutritional benefits of supplements for children
  • Impacts of over-exposure of children to antibiotics
  • Impacts of heavy metals on the neurological development of children
  • Strategies to prompt physical activity among children
  • Benefits of parental attachment to children's well-being
  • Diagnosis and management of respiratory illnesses in children
  • Treatment and management of cryptorchidism in children
  • Management of urine incontinence in children
  • Benefits of nutritional counseling for adolescent kids
  • Psychological impacts of cancer on children and their families
  • The ethical dilemma with consent when treating children
  • Health education strategies to ensure children stick to medication
  • Effects of the opioid epidemic on children and adolescents
  • The impacts of parental opioid use and children's health
  • Benefits of play therapy for children
  • The link between vaccination and the well-being of children
  • Should Covid-19 be part of the vaccination schedule for children?

Communications Nursing Research Topics

  • Using social media to raise awareness among nurses
  • Attitudes of nurses on using SBAR to improve communication
  • Impacts of body language on nursing communication
  • Benefits of training nurses on interprofessional communication
  • Impacts of communication on collaboration within interprofessional healthcare teams
  • Why nurses should check for non-verbal cues among patients
  • The role of interpreters and translators in clinical settings
  • Communicating with patients and their families on aspects related to cancer care
  • Strategies to maintain good therapeutic relationships with patients in end-of-life care
  • Role of interpersonal communication in transcultural nursing
  • Patient perceptions and attitudes of nurse-patient communication
  • Communication models oncology nurses can use when 'Breaking Bad News.'
  • Strategies to resolve communication challenges in intensive care units
  • Benefits of taking notes on proper communication among nurses
  • Use of technology to facilitate communication among nurses and patients
  • Factors affecting nursing error communication within ICUs
  • Perceptions and lived experiences of pediatric oncology nurses during palliative and end of life care
  • The link between communication and patient outcomes
  • Benefits of patient-centered communication
  • How can nurses address the needs of deaf patients
  • Perceptions of nurses of prognosis-related communication
  • The use of telehealth to facilitate fast communication
  • Benefits of using the nursing dashboard to communicate evaluation of program outcomes
  • Management of language barrier among nurses and patients
  • Management of language discordance in clinical nursing practice
  • Role of intercultural communication in nursing
  • Multi-professional communication for older patients in transitional care
  • Strategies nurses use to communicate with patients who are mechanically ventilated in the ICU
  • Improving communication among nurses through resident nurse shadowing
  • How to overcome elder speaking when communicating with older patients
  • Benefits of nursing communication on patient care quality
  • Barriers to communication between adult cancer patients and registered nurses in inpatient care settings
  • Benefits of communicating skin changes by certified nursing assistants to reduce pressure injuries
  • Strategies nurses can use to communicate contraceptive effectiveness
  • Improving nurse-patient communication when caring for patients with dementia
  • Using YouTube and simulation to prepare millennial nursing students to communicate well in clinical settings

Controversial Nursing Research Topics

  • The placement of G-tube in nursing home patients with end-stage dementia
  • Nurses' role in advising families against the provision of futile care or aggressive interventions
  • The fear of giving opioids to end-of-life patients by nurses
  • Dealing with patients who are non-compliant or aggressively decline treatment
  • Longer shifts and poor pay among nurses
  • Discrimination of new nurses by older nurses
  • Exposure of nurses to job hazards
  • Causes and consequences of nurse strikes
  • Incivility in the workplace against nurses from the minority groups
  • Longer education pathway for one to become a nurse

Controversies in nursing practice, training, and management can be good research topic ideas for a paper if your interest lies in a specific specialization of nursing.

Related Article: Interesting nursing debate topics for students .

Disease Management Nursing Topics

  • Management of burn wounds in the ER settings
  • Management of Diabetes Mellitus through nutritional and lifestyle changes
  • Modern treatment and management of coeliac disease
  • Importance of intermittent fasting in managing GERD
  • Management of hypertensive cardiovascular disease
  • Treatment and management of hemolytic disease of the newborn
  • Management of neurovascular disease
  • Management of neurodegenerative disease
  • Treatment and management of lupus
  • Management of endometriosis using modern means
  • Management of strabismus
  • Management of gynecomastia among adolescents and adults
  • Osteopathic management of cancer
  • Diagnosis and management of Buerger's disease
  • Treatment and management of Crohn's disease
  • Management of multiple sclerosis
  • Management of pulmonary heart disease secondary to chronic lung disease
  • Management of pruritus
  • Management of anemia among pregnant women
  • Disease management strategies for glaucoma
  • Management of pilonidal disease without incision
  • Management of alopecia in women
  • Medical management of Meniere's disease
  • Treatment and management of CUTIs
  • Treatment and non-surgical management of bronchiectasis
  • Management of hemorrhoidal disease
  • Management of listeria
  • Management of sepsis
  • Management of peptic ulcer disease
  • Diagnosis and management of peripheral vascular disease

Related: How to write a windshield survey report paper.

Emergency Room Nursing Topics

  • Reasons for emergency room visits during the covid-19 pandemic period
  • Improving postpartum visits in the gynecological emergency room
  • Factors leading to overcrowding at the emergency departments
  • Addressing inadequate visits to the emergency departments by pregnant women
  • Strategies to reduce emergency room visits among elderly adults
  • SNAP timing and emergency room visits
  • Pediatric emergency room visits for neurological conditions
  • Effects of community health centers on emergency room visits
  • Predictors of frequent psychiatric emergency room visits
  • Use of telehealth monitoring to reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations of patients with COPD
  • Addressing the increased frequency of emergency room visits of asthmatic children
  • The link between proper patient education and emergency room visits
  • The connection between emergency room visits and healthcare promotion
  • Emergency room visits for accident victims
  • Impacts of air pollution on unscheduled emergency room visits
  • Self-reported emergency room visits for dental problems
  • Handling non-emergency requests presented in emergency departments
  • Repeat emergency room visits for hand and wrist injuries
  • Seasonal variations in emergency department visits
  • Management of sepsis and septic shock in the emergency department
  • Management of acute headache in the emergency department: A dilemma
  • Emergency management of seizures and epilepsy
  • Handling agitated and aggressive patients in the ED
  • Management of patients with thermal burns in the ED
  • Emergency management strategies to manage chronic pain in elderly adults
  • Handling myasthenia gravis in the ED
  • Management of priapism in the emergency department
  • Evaluation and management of clostridioides defficile infection in the ED
  • Management of hematogenous osteomyelitis in children in the ED
  • Management of Thunderclap Headache in the ED
  • Emergency department as an entry point to inpatient care
  • The link between delays in patient admission from ED and mortality

Evidence-Based Practice Nursing Research Topics

  • Importance of evidence-based nursing in addressing emerging nursing challenges
  • Benefits of disseminating nursing knowledge
  • Role of evidence-based nursing research in clarifying concepts necessary for nursing practice
  • Use of evidence-based practice to address gaps in nursing knowledge
  • The link between evidence-based practice and quality improvement
  • The connection between nursing research and evidence-based practice
  • Strategies for disseminating evidence-based strategy in nursing
  • Benefits of honing evidence-based practice competencies in nursing students
  • The Stetler Model of research utilization and EBP
  • Role of nurse leaders in promoting EBP implementation at the points of care
  • Evidence-based practice guidelines for perioperative nursing
  • Planning, implementing and evaluating EBP
  • Models of evaluating evidence-based practice strategies
  • Contributions of qualitative and quantitative research to evidence-based practice in nursing
  • Using action research to facilitate evidence-based practice in nursing
  • Factors affecting the implementation of evidence-based strategies in nursing
  • Attitudes, knowledge, and skills of nursing students on evidence-based practice
  • Benefits of evidence-based clinical guidelines for diseases
  • Benefits of integrating evidence-based approach to the nursing curriculum
  • Value of evidence-based practice in military nursing

Related Articles:

  • How to formulate a good PICOT with examples
  • How to write an excellent evidence-based practice paper in nursing
  • Writing a nursing diagnosis as a nurse student.

Geriatric Nursing Research Topics

  • Cognitive decline among the aging patients
  • Polypharmacy management in elderly patients
  • Depression among the elderly patients
  • Causes of mobility issues among elderly patients
  • The link between undernutrition and mortality in older persons
  • Strategies for weight management among the elderly
  • Abnormal eating behaviors among the elderly patients
  • Functional impairment among the older persons
  • Sarcopenia or frailty among elderly people
  • Impacts of aging on the immune system
  • Preventing cardiovascular disease among the elderly population
  • Benefits of having a geriatric-friendly nurse in the ED
  • Benefits of Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
  • Utilization of Delirium Intensive Care units by the elderly patients
  • Improving patient outcomes in Acute Care for the Elderly Units (ACE)
  • How low vision impacts the driving capacity of the elderly
  • Relationship between ethnicity and race and depression in older adults with low vision
  • Impacts of loneliness among adults with visual impairment
  • Effects of light therapy on osteoarthritis and its sequelae in aging and older adults
  • Strategies to address plasticity in early Alzheimer's Disease
  • Pathophysiology, treatment, and rehabilitation of atherosclerosis among the geriatric population
  • Music therapy in geriatrics
  • Bone aging and osteoporosis
  • Degenerative gastric disorders of the musculoskeletal among geriatric populations
  • Addressing inflammation among the elderly
  • Impacts of lifestyle on vascular aging
  • Pathophysiology and interventions to combat degenerative aortic stenosis in elderly populations
  • Frailty and gait disorders in Parkinson's Disease
  • Management of falls in older adults
  • Pathogenesis and treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms and pelvic floor dysfunction diseases in elderly adults
  • End-of-life care in elderly people living with dementia
  • Management of osteosarcopenia in elderly adults
  • Strategies to promote healthy aging
  • Benefits of aging-in-place for the elderly people
  • Interventional strategies to improve the quality of life and health span of the older adults
  • Assistive technologies and innovations to help improve the quality of life of the older people
  • Diabetes management among elderly adults through life transitions
  • The impactful interventions to extend the health span of aging adults
  • Mechanisms, clinical significance, and management of age-related changes in body composition
  • Strategies to maintain longevity in old age
  • Redesign of homes and hospitals to accommodate the needs of elderly adults
  • Calorie restriction among the elderly adults
  • Management of elderly abuse
  • Strategies to measure and manage elderly abuse
  • Providing care for elderly patients with a frontotemporal disorder

You can check more research topic ideas from the NIH website .

Healthcare Promotion Nursing Topics

  • Strategies to evaluate healthcare promotion and disease prevention program
  • Application of the Logic Model to evaluate healthcare promotion programs
  • Applying the health belief model in health promotion programs
  • Using ecological models to formulate healthcare promotion programs
  • The transtheoretical model and healthcare promotion
  • Theory of planned behavior and healthcare promotion
  • Application of social cognitive theory in disease prevention programs
  • Holism in nursing and health promotion
  • Benefits of community health promotion in nursing
  • Health promotion role of family health nurses
  • Integrating interpersonal skills in health promotion
  • Contribution of health promotion to community children's nursing
  • Benefits of focused health promotion assessment
  • Process evaluation strategies for health promotion programs
  • Formative evaluation of health promotion
  • Outcome and impact evaluation of health promotion
  • Role of school nurses in promoting healthy behaviors among teenagers

Hot Nursing Research Topics

  • The social and economic effects of the opioid crisis
  • Impacts of feminism on women's health
  • The gender pay gap in nursing and its implications on the future of nursing
  • Access to healthcare by immigrant women
  • Strategies to improve diversity in nursing
  • Best strategies to reduce vaccine hesitancy during pregnancy
  • How nurses can use social media to promote health
  • Importance of virtual nursing communities on healthcare
  • Nurses as agents of change
  • Can nurses be entrepreneurs?
  • Benefits of evidence-based nursing practices
  • Importance of continuing nursing education
  • Role of government in providing nursing education
  • Strategies to address nursing staff shortage
  • Impacts of nurses on contraceptive uptake among women from minority races in the USA
  • Impact of stress on the work behavior of nurses

Neonatal Nursing Research Topics

  • Attitudes of neonatal nurses on hand hygiene practices in neonatal units
  • Causes of child mortality
  • Factors affecting neonatal care in rural areas
  • Methods of identifying and addressing eating disorders in children
  • Skin-to-skin contact between the newborns and their mothers
  • Impacts of postpartum depression on newborns
  • Causes of abnormal neurological development in children
  • Application of hormones in regulating fetal lung development
  • Diagnosis and management of diaphragmatic hernia in infants
  • Strategies to establish and maintain therapeutic rapport with infants
  • Impacts of the physical appearance of care settings on infants
  • Use of nitric acid to treat premature babies
  • Benefits of exposing newborns to sun rays
  • Use of biomarkers to diagnose and manage neonatal sepsis
  • Impacts of prenatal alcohol and substance use on the neurological development of a fetus
  • Use of biomarkers in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries in infants
  • How inflammatory processes affect the brain development of infants
  • Impacts of slow music in the neonatal units on the mood of children
  • Impacts of educating newborns on exclusive breastfeeding
  • Nutritional plans for a neonatal care unit
  • Strategies to prevent drug errors in neonatal units
  • Methods of reducing mortality rates in neonatal care settings
  • Ways to predict and address feeding problems
  • Strategies to increase the uptake of neonatal services among aboriginal women
  • Impacts of maternal obesity on infant development
  • Benefits of allowing men into neonatal care units
  • Methods of predicting diseases in newborn children
  • The use of genetic profiling to identify genetic disorders in newborns
  • Impacts of counseling by neonatal nurses before discharge from a neonatal facility
  • Nursing ethics for newborn care
  • Impacts of NICU nursing staff shortage on quality of care

Nurse Practitioner Research Topics

  • Transitioning from a nurse to an advanced nurse practitioner
  • Core competencies of a nurse practitioner
  • Factors affecting advanced nurse practitioner autonomy
  • Prescription privileges of nurse practitioners in the USA
  • Strategies to mentor new graduate nurse practitioners
  • Benefits of joining professional organizations as a nurse practitioner
  • Lived experiences of registered nurses transitioning to a nurse practitioner role
  • Role of psychiatric nurse practitioners
  • Benefits of family nurse practitioners in the management of genetic diseases
  • Role of nurse practitioners in congenital heart surgery
  • Benefits of establishing nurse practitioner practicums
  • Strategies to detraumatize nurse practitioner orientation
  • Collaboration between nurse practitioners and physicians in long-term care facilities
  • Role of a nurse practitioner in ambulatory women's health
  • Impacts of religiosity and spirituality of nurse practitioners in family practice
  • Strategies to recruit and retain nurse practitioners
  • Role of acute care nurse practitioner
  • The advanced nursing practice as a surgical assistant
  • Job satisfaction among nurse practitioners
  • Retention rates and burnout among nurse practitioners
  • Crisis in nurse practitioner preparation in the USA
  • Nurse Practitioner privileges in the UK vs. USA
  • Roles of pediatric critical care nurse practitioner
  • Factors influencing the decision by nurse practitioners to join nurse practitioner associations
  • Disciplinary actions for nurse practitioners who err at work
  • Struggle for recognition among nurse practitioners
  • Challenges faced by new psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners
  • Does age matter in the nurse practitioner role?
  • Novice nurse practitioner workforce transition
  • Turnover intentions and its effect on nurse practitioners
  • Are nurse practitioners considered nurses in all settings?
  • Liability and authority of nurse practitioners
  • Impacts of postgraduate education and training for nurse practitioners
  • The racial disparity among nurse practitioners
  • Racial disparity in neonatal practitioner training programs in the USA
  • Impacts of recognizing achievements of nurse practitioners through honors and awards
  • The education trajectory of occupational health nurse practitioners in the UK
  • Nurse practitioner's role in endometriosis care
  • Mid-Level Practitioners vs. Advanced Nurse Practitioners in the UK
  • Role of nurse practitioners in supporting veteran patients
  • Nurse practitioners as healthcare advocates
  • Nurse practitioners as change advocates
  • Gender gap and payment issues affecting advanced nurse practitioners

Nursing Student Research Topics

  • Stress and coping strategies among nursing students
  • Attitudes of nursing students on the use of simulation
  • Attitudes of nursing students on blended learning of cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • The link between the mental health of nursing students and academic performance
  • The perspective of nursing students on a caring relationship in clinical supervision
  • Professional values of nursing students
  • Nursing students as crucial players in the healthcare industry
  • Perceptions of BSN students on being a nurse
  • Benefits of maintaining proper sleep, diet, and quality of life among nursing students
  • Funding challenges affecting education continuation among student nurses
  • Causes and consequences of high dropout rates among nursing students
  • Adaptive strategies to the difficulties pre-licensure nursing students face during their first clinical experience
  • Strategies nursing students use to build resilience
  • Homophobia among nursing students
  • Smoking and alcohol abuse among nursing students
  • Stress levels of nursing students during placements and practicum
  • Impacts of shadowing on the experiences of student nurses
  • Factors affecting the readiness of nursing students to enter the nursing workforce
  • Performance, attitudes, and growth trajectory of foreign-born nursing students in the United States
  • Benefits of mentoring for nursing students
  • Perceptions and perspectives of minority nursing students on classroom diversity
  • Entry rates among minority nursing students
  • Causes of high dropout rates among black American nursing students
  • Experiences and perceptions of accelerated nursing programs
  • Factors affecting the retention of nursing knowledge among nursing students
  • Strategies to boost clinical judgment among undergraduate nursing students
  • Spiritual care perceptions of Baccalaureate nursing students
  • Perceptions of nursing students on skills learning
  • Strategies to promote collaboration and teamwork among undergraduate nursing students
  • The knowledge of nurse students on the role of nurses in the management of dysphagia
  • Ethical challenges nursing students face in clinical settings
  • Perceptions of nursing students on participatory action research
  • Role of nurse students in clinical research
  • Attitudes of nurse students on participating in pedagogical research
  • Moral distress among nursing students
  • The impacts of spiritual orientation of nursing students on their attitudes towards principles of dying with dignity
  • Experiences and attitudes of nurses who make mistakes in clinical
  • Impacts of gender and perceived faculty support on the performance of nursing students
  • Perception and attitudes of nursing students on the use of technology in education
  • Altruism, religiosity, and honesty among nursing students
  • Incivility experiences of student nurses in clinical settings
  • Addressing smartphone addiction among nursing students
  • The perception of undergraduate nursing students on clinical assessment at the transition to practice
  • Benefits of teaching nursing students transcultural caring
  • Causes and consequences of poor performance among nursing students
  • Benefits of exposing nursing students to leadership concepts in nursing

Pain Management Nursing Topics

  • The role of the anesthesiologist in the management of intractable pain
  • The value of chlorpromazine in pain management
  • Benefits of interdisciplinary pain management
  • Using Neuromodulators for pain management
  • Strategies to address acute pain among hospitalized children
  • Using virtual reality for pain management in children
  • Interdisciplinary approach to chronic pain management
  • Tools and factors to improve postoperative pain management
  • Using acupuncture for pain management
  • Knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of nurses on pain management
  • Role of Cannabidiol (CBD) in chronic pain management
  • Effectiveness of using clinical aromatherapy in pain management
  • Assistive technologies for pain management in patients with amputations
  • Benefits of training nurses on transcultural pain management
  • Pain management interventions in PICU or NICU
  • Rehabilitation therapy in perioperative pain management
  • Pediatric pain management in the emergency departments
  • Pain management among geriatric patients
  • Interventional strategies for the management of oncological pain
  • Interventions for post-craniotomy pain management
  • Non-pharmacologic approaches to pain management among patients
  • Importance of adherence to communication in pain management
  • Self-management of cancer pain for oncology patients
  • Pain assessment among deaf patients
  • Pain assessment among pediatric patients
  • The ethics of using epidural and spinal anesthesia
  • Pain management in patients with heart failure
  • Hypnosis for the management of chronic pain in children
  • Spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain management
  • Benefits of documenting postoperative pain

Pediatric Nursing Research Topics

  • Causes and management of Tourette syndrome in children
  • Diagnosis and management of asthma in children
  • Strategies to address pediatric polypharmacy
  • Management of pneumonia in children
  • Addressing diarrhea among preschool children
  • Strategies to prevent and manage tuberculosis in children
  • Impacts of psychological support for children with cancer
  • Effects of anorexia on the cognitive function of children
  • Reducing risk in children receiving oxygen therapy
  • Using molecular markers to diagnose childhood leukemia
  • Strategies to address childhood obesity
  • Diabetes among children
  • Use of stem cell research in solving childhood diseases
  • Implications of the passive smoke syndrome in children
  • Impacts of alcohol intake among adolescents
  • The administration of painkillers for children
  • Strategies nurses can use to prevent teenage pregnancies
  • Approach to counseling adolescents living with HIV/AIDS
  • Impacts of air pollution on the brain development of children
  • Diagnosis and management of ear infection among children
  • Addressing UTIs in adolescents

Perioperative Nursing Research Topics

  • Drugs to manage and prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting after general anesthesia
  • Benefits of postoperative education for adult patients who've undergone elective surgery
  • Effects of using music interventions in perioperative settings
  • Strategies to enhance patient safety in an operating theater
  • Strategies to reduce patient abuse in the operating theater
  • Non-pharmacological interventions in perioperative settings to prevent anxiety in adolescents
  • Ethical aspects of non-technical skills in operating room nursing
  • Postoperative accelerated recovery protocols
  • Benefits of pre-operative fasting
  • Nursing interventions to enhance perioperative care for patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery
  • Use of the IOWA model by perioperative nurse leaders to implement clinical practice guidelines (CPGs)
  • Benefits of using perioperative data set in surgical nursing
  • Perioperative considerations of patients with concussion

Primary Healthcare Nursing Topics

  • Strategies to maintain infant oral health
  • ED as an entry into the primary healthcare continuum
  • Best practices for transgender health
  • Benefits of offering primary oral healthcare
  • Strategies to improve vaccination access and uptake in rural areas
  • Community-based primary healthcare and child mortality rates
  • Strategies to improve patient experiences with primary care
  • Strategy for screening for poverty and poverty-related social determinants of health
  • The identity crisis of preventive medicine
  • Use of data-driven population health in primary care
  • Benefits of sharing with adults of adolescents sexual health information in primary care
  • Attitudes and perspectives of women on reproductive health services in primary care
  • Challenges affecting adolescents from seeing sexual health services in primary care
  • The link between primary care and population health
  • Immigration as a social determinant of health
  • Health promotion among older adults

Psychiatric Nursing Research Topics

  • Safety in psychiatric inpatient care
  • Impacts of risk management culture on mental health nursing practice
  • Consequences of community-based psychiatric nurses in addressing healthcare access for people with mental disorders
  • Technical competencies for postgraduate psychiatric nursing students
  • Benefits of using focus group interviews for psychiatric nursing research
  • Using reflexive methodology in psychiatric nursing research
  • Attitudes of psychiatric nursing staff toward containment methods in psychiatric inpatient care settings
  • Use of physical restraints for aggressive patients in psychiatric facilities
  • Role of psychiatric liaison nursing
  • Impacts of human patient and communication simulation on psychiatric nursing training
  • The application of telehealth to address mental health issues among patients in rural areas
  • Ethical issues in psychiatric care facilities

Related Article: Mental health nursing topics .

Qualitative Nursing Research Topics

In nursing, qualitative research deals with the lived experiences of patients and nurses. Some of the qualitative research methods include narrative inquiry, action research, grounded theory, ethnography, and phenomenology. Below are some of the qualitative topics for nursing research.

  • Application of positivism in qualitative nursing research
  • Impacts of language barriers on qualitative nursing research
  • Use of qualitative research methods to investigate tobacco use and control
  • Application of qualitative case study methodology in nursing research
  • Lived experience of nurses who handle pediatric patients in oncology departments
  • Attitudes of nurses taking care of end-of-life patients on compassion fatigue
  • Benefits of qualitative research in clinical epidemiology
  • Approaches to qualitative content analysis
  • Qualitative research in rheumatology
  • Thematic analysis in nursing research
  • Descriptive phenomenological vs. qualitative description research
  • Challenges and benefits of conducting qualitative research online
  • Methodological challenges in qualitative content analysis
  • Using lived experiences of pregnant black American mothers to assess the impacts of eclampsia
  • Benefits of longitudinal qualitative research in nursing
  • Use of action research in nursing education
  • Using action research to evaluate the orientation program for nurses in a multicultural healthcare setting
  • Effectiveness of clinical simulations for new graduate nurses
  • Effectiveness of cognitive therapy and family psychoeducation on the self-esteem of adolescents in orphanages
  • Influence of music therapy on the well-being of postoperative patients of total knee arthroplasty
  • Investigating the quality of life of elderly adults after spinal cord surgery
  • Using focus groups with women with severe psychiatric disabilities
  • Using virtual, synchronous focus groups among black sexual minority men
  • Using focus groups with children who have undergone sexual abuse prevention program training
  • Application of focus groups to understand the perceptions and attitudes of nurses on patient-centered care
  • Exploring job satisfaction and workplace engagement among millennial nurses
  • Barriers and facilitators of intersectoral cooperation to promote positive health behavior
  • Ethical issues in qualitative research
  • Examining the effects of the witnessed experiences of patient death during clinical practice on new student nurses
  • Qualitative methodological considerations when conducting focus groups in neurodegenerative disease populations
  • Understanding the role of gender differences within the barriers to smoking cessation and preferences for interventions in primary care
  • Investigation of the impacts of social media bullying on mental health
  • Evaluating the effects of medical tabards in reducing medical errors
  • Strategies for empowering nurses to prescribe medications
  • Role of technology in improving quality of care in nursing
  • Impacts of discrimination and racism on nursing student admission
  • The knowledge and understanding of the role of emergency nurses in recognizing and responding to patients with sepsis
  • Lived experiences of women seeking a diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Incidence and prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Using poverty screening questions to predict social determinants of healthcare
  • Management of antidepressant therapy induced sexual dysfunction in women

Quantitative Nursing Research Topics

  • The link between the knowledge level of nurses and the quality of care
  • Role of nurses in clinical research
  • Association between nosocomial infections and adherence to hand hygiene protocols
  • Role of nurses in caring for patients in ICU settings
  • Role of nurses in increasing adherence to medication among elderly patients
  • Using interviews to assess the level of awareness of stress coping mechanisms among nurses
  • Importance of nurses' communication technique in clinical settings
  • The impacts of clinical decisions support systems in clinical decision-making
  • Role of nurses in providing healthcare to patients in rural areas
  • Role of family practitioners in promoting family-centered care
  • Causes of high nursing staff attrition rates
  • Impacts of mindfulness meditation on stress and burnout in nurses

Trauma Nursing Research Topics

  • Risk of vicarious trauma in nursing research
  • Impacts of trauma-informed care on the holistic well-being of patients
  • Risk factors for postoperative delirium
  • Risk factors of perineal trauma during labor
  • Impacts of virtual trauma-focused therapy for military veterans with PTSD
  • Recognizing and managing poststroke depression
  • Prevention of fracture-related infections using a multidisciplinary approach
  • Best strategies for offering nursing care to children after a traumatic accident
  • Role of trauma nurses in providing support to families of neurotrauma patients
  • Management of injuries to the cervix in sexual trauma
  • Benefits of fluid resuscitation of the adult trauma patients
  • The involvement of nurses in improving compliance with tight blood glucose control in trauma ICU
  • Caring for older people with dementia struggling to relieve past trauma
  • Impacts of pediatric trauma on the health outcomes of children
  • Causes and consequences of geriatric trauma
  • Causes of under-detection of trauma in elderly adults involved in motor vehicle accidents
  • Impacts of simulated multidisciplinary trauma team training on team performance
  • Glucose interventions and outcomes in critically injured trauma patients
  • Best education strategies for multi-trauma patients on discharge from the ED
  • Strategies for managing hypovolemic shock
  • Investigating the experience of patients of trauma resuscitation
  • Role of family support on youths experiencing posttraumatic stress

Leadership Nursing Research Topics

  • Best leadership styles for nurse educators
  • Ethical leadership in nursing
  • Role of nursing leadership in ensuring a healthy workforce in clinical settings
  • Principles of strengths-based nursing leadership for strength-based nursing care
  • Role of nursing leadership in the management of the mental health of nurses
  • Benefits of collaborative leadership in nursing
  • Application of charismatic and transformational leadership in clinical settings
  • Benefits of trauma-informed nursing leadership
  • Impacts of nursing leadership on patient outcomes
  • Role of nurse leaders in maintaining cultural competency of nurses
  • Benefits of nurses having personal leadership development plans
  • Nurse leaders as managers in clinical settings
  • Nursing leadership styles to help handle crises
  • Application of situational leadership theory in clinical settings
  • Role of nurse leaders in developing a shared vision
  • Role of leaders in promoting cross-generational retention
  • Strategies nurse leaders can use to enable staff engagement
  • Role of nurse leaders in reducing incivility in the workplace
  • Role of nurse leaders in enhancing patient safety
  • The competence of black nurse leaders in clinical settings
  • Role of nurse leaders in promoting workplace diversity
  • Leadership styles and strategies to facilitate the implementation of clinical practice guidelines
  • An integrated approach to change leadership in nursing
  • Nurses ad leaders, and change advocates
  • Impacts of nurse leadership on attrition rates of new nurses

Women's Health Nursing Topics

  • Sleep disorders in women
  • Prevalence of diabetes and obesity in women
  • Infertility issues among obese women
  • Binge eating disorder among women
  • Stress and coping strategies for lonely older women after the death of a spouse
  • Management of carpal tunnel syndrome in women
  • The prevalence, diagnosis, and management of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis
  • Effects of date rape drugs on the memory of women
  • Emergency contraception in women
  • Benefits of HPV vaccination in women
  • Management and treatment of COPD in women
  • Impacts of menopause on the physical and emotional well-being of women
  • Benefits of educating women about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
  • Treatment and management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in women
  • Prevalence and incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease in women
  • Diagnosis, Causes and consequences, and Treatment and Management of Pelvic organ prolapse in women
  • Impacts of sickle cell disease on women
  • Causes and management of urine incontinence in women
  • Offering primary healthcare services to lesbian women
  • Management of vaginal yeast infections: A nursing care plan
  • Prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment of Trichomoniasis in women
  • Diagnosis and treatment of Syphilis in women
  • Management of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Management of postpartum depression in women
  • Benefits of physical activity for women's health
  • Benefits of mammograms in screening for breast cancer
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in women
  • Causes and management of bladder pain syndrome or interstitial cystitis in women
  • Diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in women
  • Causes and management of anxiety and insomnia in women
  • Purpose, benefits, and risks of hypersectomy
  • The time it takes to recover from laparoscopic hypersectomy
  • Treatment of genital warts in women
  • Treatment and management of Grave's diseases in women
  • Impacts of caregiver stress syndrome on women
  • Attitudes of black women on using contraceptives
  • Factors and barriers to accessing insurance by black and minority women
  • Healthcare challenges that women immigrants face
  • Impacts of domestic violence on women's mental health
  • Impacts of noncommunicable diseases on women
  • Impacts of stigmatization and isolation of women with HIV/AIDS

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  • Roberta Heale 1 ,
  • Helen Noble 2
  • 1 Laurentian University , School of Nursing , Sudbury , Ontario , Canada
  • 2 Queens University Belfast , School of Nursing and Midwifery , Belfast , UK
  • Correspondence to Dr Roberta Heale, School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, P3E2C6, Canada; rheale{at}laurentian.ca


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Often the most difficult part of a research study is preparing the proposal based around a theoretical or philosophical framework. Graduate students ‘…express confusion, a lack of knowledge, and frustration with the challenge of choosing a theoretical framework and understanding how to apply it’. 1 However, the importance in understanding and applying a theoretical framework in research cannot be overestimated.

The choice of a theoretical framework for a research study is often a reflection of the researcher’s ontological (nature of being) and epistemological (theory of knowledge) perspective. We will not delve into these concepts, or personal philosophy in this article. Rather we will focus on how a theoretical framework can be integrated into research.

The theoretical framework is a blueprint for your research project 1 and serves several purposes. It informs the problem you have identified, the purpose and significance of your research demonstrating how your research fits with what is already known (relationship to existing theory and research). This provides a basis for your research questions, the literature review and the methodology and analysis that you choose. 1 Evidence of your chosen theoretical framework should be visible in every aspect of your research and should demonstrate the contribution of this research to knowledge. 2

What is a theory?

A theory is an explanation of a concept or an abstract idea of a phenomenon. An example of a theory is Bandura’s middle range theory of self-efficacy, 3 or the level of confidence one has in achieving a goal. Self-efficacy determines the coping behaviours that a person will exhibit when facing obstacles. Those who have high self-efficacy are likely to apply adequate effort leading to successful outcomes, while those with low self-efficacy are more likely to give up earlier and ultimately fail. Any research that is exploring concepts related to self-efficacy or the ability to manage difficult life situations might apply Bandura’s theoretical framework to their study.

Using a theoretical framework in a research study

Example 1: the big five theoretical framework.

The first example includes research which integrates the ‘Big Five’, a theoretical framework that includes concepts related to teamwork. These include team leadership, mutual performance monitoring, backup behaviour, adaptability and team orientation. 4 In order to conduct research incorporating a theoretical framework, the concepts need to be defined according to a frame of reference. This provides a means to understand the theoretical framework as it relates to a specific context and provides a mechanism for measurement of the concepts.

In this example, the concepts of the Big Five were given a conceptual definition, that provided a broad meaning and then an operational definition, which was more concrete. 4 From here, a survey was developed that reflected the operational definitions related to teamwork in nursing: the Nursing Teamwork Survey (NTS). 5 In this case, the concepts used in the theoretical framework, the Big Five, were the used to develop a survey specific to teamwork in nursing.

The NTS was used in research of nurses at one hospital in northeastern Ontario. Survey questions were grouped into subscales for analysis, that reflected the concepts of the Big Five. 6 For example, one finding of this study was that the nurses from the surgical unit rated the items in the subscale of ’team leadership' (one of the concepts in the Big Five) significantly lower than in the other units. The researchers looked back to the definition of this concept in the Big Five in their interpretation of the findings. Since the definition included a person(s) who has the leadership skills to facilitate teamwork among the nurses on the unit, the conclusion in this study was that the surgical unit lacked a mentor, or facilitator for teamwork. In this way, the theory of teamwork was presented through a set of concepts in a theoretical framework. The Theoretical Framework (TF)was the foundation for development of a survey related to a specific context, used to measure each of the concepts within the TF. Then, the analysis and results circled back to the concepts within the TF and provided a guide for the discussion and conclusions arising from the research.

Example 2: the Health Decisions Model

In another study which explored adherence to intravenous chemotherapy in African-American and Caucasian Women with early stage breast cancer, an adapted version of the Health Decisions Model (HDM) was used as the theoretical basis for the study. 7 The HDM, a revised version of the Health Belief Model, incorporates some aspects of the Health Belief Model and factors relating to patient preferences. 8 The HDM consists of six interrelated constituents that might predict how well a person adheres to a health decision. These include sociodemographic, social interaction, experience, knowledge, general and specific health beliefs and patient preferences, and are clearly defined. The HDM model was used to explore factors which might influence adherence to chemotherapy in women with breast cancer. Sociodemographic, social interaction, knowledge, personal experience and specific health beliefs were used as predictors of adherence to chemotherapy.

The findings were reported using the theoretical framework to discuss results. The study found that delay to treatment, health insurance, depression and symptom severity were predictors to starting chemotherapy which could potentially be adapted with clinical interventions. The findings from the study contribute to the existing body of literature related to cancer nursing.

Example 3: the nursing role effectiveness model

In this final example, research was conducted to determine the nursing processes that were associated with unexpected intensive care unit admissions. 9 The framework was the Nursing Role Effectiveness Model. In this theoretical framework, the concepts within Donabedian’s Quality Framework of Structure, Process and Outcome were each defined according to nursing practice. 10 11  Processes defined in the Nursing Role Effectiveness Model were used to identify the nursing process variables that were measured in the study.

A theoretical framework should be logically presented and represent the concepts, variables and relationships related to your research study, in order to clearly identify what will be examined, described or measured. It involves reading the literature and identifying a research question(s) while clearly defining and identifying the existing relationship between concepts and theories (related to your research questions[s] in the literature). You must then identify what you will examine or explore in relation to the concepts of the theoretical framework. Once you present your findings using the theoretical framework you will be able to articulate how your study relates to and may potentially advance your chosen theory and add to knowledge.

  • Kalisch BJ ,
  • Parent M , et al
  • Strickland OL ,
  • Dalton JA , et al
  • Eraker SA ,
  • Kirscht JP ,
  • Lightfoot N , et al
  • Harrison MB ,
  • Laschinger H , et al

Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Patient and public involvement Not required.

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Nursing Theories and Theorists: The Definitive Guide for Nurses

Nursing Theory and Theorist Definitive Guide for Nurses

In this guide for nursing theories and nursing theorists , we aim to help you understand what comprises a nursing theory and its importance, purpose, history, types, or classifications, and give you an overview through summaries of selected nursing theories.

Table of Contents

  • What are Nursing Theories?

Defining Terms

History of nursing theories, environment, definitions, relational statements, assumptions, why are nursing theories important, in academic discipline, in research, in the profession, grand nursing theories, middle-range nursing theories, practice-level nursing theories, factor-isolating theory, explanatory theory, prescriptive theories, other ways of classifying nursing theories, florence nightingale, hildegard e. peplau, virginia henderson, faye glenn abdellah, ernestine wiedenbach, lydia e. hall, joyce travelbee, kathryn e. barnard, evelyn adam, nancy roper, winifred logan, and alison j. tierney, ida jean orlando, jean watson.

  • Marilyn Anne Ray 

Patricia Benner

Kari martinsen, katie eriksson, myra estrin levine, martha e. rogers, dorothea e. orem, imogene m. king, betty neuman, sister callista roy, dorothy e. johnson, anne boykin and savina o. schoenhofer, afaf ibrahim meleis, nola j. pender, madeleine m. leininger, margaret a. newman, rosemarie rizzo parse, helen c. erickson, evelyn m. tomlin, and mary ann p. swain, gladys l. husted and james h. husted, ramona t. mercer, merle h. mishel, pamela g. reed, carolyn l. wiener and marylin j. dodd, georgene gaskill eakes, mary lermann burke, and margaret a. hainsworth, phil barker, katharine kolcaba, cheryl tatano beck, kristen m. swanson, cornelia m. ruland and shirley m. moore, wanda de aguiar horta, recommended resources, what are nursing theories.

Nursing theories are organized bodies of knowledge to define what nursing is, what nurses do, and why they do it. Nursing theories provide a way to define nursing as a unique discipline that is separate from other disciplines (e.g., medicine). It is a framework of concepts and purposes intended to guide nursing practice at a more concrete and specific level.

Nursing, as a profession, is committed to recognizing its own unparalleled body of knowledge vital to nursing practice—nursing science. To distinguish this foundation of knowledge, nurses need to identify, develop, and understand concepts and theories in line with nursing. As a science, nursing is based on the theory of what nursing is, what nurses do, and why. Nursing is a unique discipline and is separate from medicine. It has its own body of knowledge on which delivery of care is based.

The development of nursing theory demands an understanding of selected terminologies, definitions, and assumptions.

  • Philosophy. These are beliefs and values that define a way of thinking and are generally known and understood by a group or discipline.
  • Theory . A belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action. It refers to a logical group of general propositions used as principles of explanation. Theories are also used to describe, predict, or control phenomena.
  • Concept. Concepts are often called the building blocks of theories. They are primarily the vehicles of thought that involve images.
  • Models. Models are representations of the interaction among and between the concepts showing patterns. They present an overview of the theory’s thinking and may demonstrate how theory can be introduced into practice.
  • Conceptual framework. A conceptual framework is a group of related ideas, statements, or concepts. It is often used interchangeably with the conceptual model and with grand theories .
  • Proposition. Propositions are statements that describe the relationship between the concepts.
  • Domain . The domain is the perspective or territory of a profession or discipline.
  • Process. Processes are organized steps, changes, or functions intended to bring about the desired result.
  • Paradigm. A paradigm refers to a pattern of shared understanding and assumptions about reality and the world, worldview, or widely accepted value system.
  • Metaparadigm. A metaparadigm is the most general statement of discipline and functions as a framework in which the more restricted structures of conceptual models develop. Much of the theoretical work in nursing focused on articulating relationships among four major concepts: person, environment, health, and nursing.

The first nursing theories appeared in the late 1800s when a strong emphasis was placed on nursing education.

  • In 1860, Florence Nightingale defined nursing in her “ Environmental Theory ” as “the act of utilizing the patient’s environment to assist him in his recovery.”
  • In the 1950s, there is a consensus among nursing scholars that nursing needed to validate itself through the production of its own scientifically tested body of knowledge.
  • In 1952, Hildegard Peplau introduced her Theory of Interpersonal Relations that emphasizes the nurse -client relationship as the foundation of nursing practice.
  • In 1955, Virginia Henderson conceptualized the nurse’s role as assisting sick or healthy individuals to gain independence in meeting 14 fundamental needs. Thus her Nursing Need Theory was developed.
  • In 1960, Faye Abdellah published her work “Typology of 21 Nursing Problems,” which shifted the focus of nursing from a disease-centered approach to a patient-centered approach.
  • In 1962, Ida Jean Orlando emphasized the reciprocal relationship between patient and nurse and viewed nursing’s professional function as finding out and meeting the patient’s immediate need for help.
  • In 1968, Dorothy Johnson pioneered the Behavioral System Model and upheld the fostering of efficient and effective behavioral functioning in the patient to prevent illness.
  • In 1970, Martha Rogers viewed nursing as both a science and an art as it provides a way to view the unitary human being, who is integral with the universe.
  • In 1971, Dorothea Orem stated in her theory that nursing care is required if the client is unable to fulfill biological, psychological, developmental, or social needs.
  • In 1971, Imogene King ‘s Theory of Goal attainment stated that the nurse is considered part of the patient’s environment and the nurse-patient relationship is for meeting goals towards good health.
  • In 1972, Betty Neuman , in her theory, states that many needs exist, and each may disrupt client balance or stability. Stress reduction is the goal of the system model of nursing practice.
  • In 1979, Sr. Callista Roy viewed the individual as a set of interrelated systems that maintain the balance between these various stimuli.
  • In 1979, Jean Watson developed the philosophy of caring, highlighted humanistic aspects of nursing as they intertwine with scientific knowledge and nursing practice.

The Nursing Metaparadigm

Four major concepts are frequently interrelated and fundamental to nursing theory: person, environment, health, and nursing. These four are collectively referred to as metaparadigm for nursing .

Nursing Metaparadigm in Nursing Theories

Person (also referred to as Client or Human Beings) is the recipient of nursing care and may include individuals, patients, groups, families, and communities.

Environment (or situation) is defined as the internal and external surroundings that affect the client. It includes all positive or negative conditions that affect the patient, the physical environment, such as families, friends, and significant others, and the setting for where they go for their healthcare.

Health is defined as the degree of wellness or well-being that the client experiences. It may have different meanings for each patient, the clinical setting, and the health care provider.

The nurse’s attributes, characteristics, and actions provide care on behalf of or in conjunction with the client. There are numerous definitions of nursing, though nursing scholars may have difficulty agreeing on its exact definition. The ultimate goal of nursing theories is to improve patient care .

You’ll find that these four concepts are used frequently and defined differently throughout different nursing theories. Each nurse theorist’s definition varies by their orientation, nursing experience , and different factors that affect the theorist’s nursing view. The person is the main focus, but how each theorist defines the nursing metaparadigm gives a unique take specific to a particular theory. To give you an example, below are the different definitions of various theorists on the nursing metaparadigm:

Nursing Metaparadigm of Different Nursing Theories

Components of Nursing Theories

For a theory to be a theory, it has to contain concepts, definitions, relational statements, and assumptions that explain a phenomenon. It should also explain how these components relate to each other.

A term given to describe an idea or response about an event, a situation, a process, a group of events, or a group of situations. Phenomena may be temporary or permanent. Nursing theories focus on the phenomena of nursing.

Interrelated concepts define a theory. Concepts are used to help describe or label a phenomenon. They are words or phrases that identify, define, and establish structure and boundaries for ideas generated about a particular phenomenon. Concepts may be abstract or concrete.

  • Abstract Concepts . Defined as mentally constructed independently of a specific time or place.
  • Concrete Concepts . Are directly experienced and related to a particular time or place.

Definitions are used to convey the general meaning of the concepts of the theory. Definitions can be theoretical or operational.

  • Theoretical Definitions . Define a particular concept based on the theorist’s perspective.
  • Operational Definitions . States how concepts are measured.

Relational statements define the relationships between two or more concepts. They are the chains that link concepts to one another.

Assumptions are accepted as truths and are based on values and beliefs. These statements explain the nature of concepts, definitions, purpose, relationships, and structure of a theory.

Nursing theories are the basis of nursing practice today. In many cases, nursing theory guides knowledge development and directs education, research, and practice. Historically, nursing was not recognized as an academic discipline or as a profession we view today. Before nursing theories were developed, nursing was considered to be a task-oriented occupation. The training and function of nurses were under the direction and control of the medical profession. Let’s take a look at the importance of nursing theory and its significance to nursing practice:

  • Nursing theories help recognize what should set the foundation of practice by explicitly describing nursing.
  • By defining nursing, a nursing theory also helps nurses understand their purpose and role in the healthcare setting.
  • Theories serve as a rationale or scientific reasons for nursing interventions and give nurses the knowledge base necessary for acting and responding appropriately in nursing care situations.
  • Nursing theories provide the foundations of nursing practice, generate further knowledge, and indicate which direction nursing should develop in the future (Brown, 1964).
  • By providing nurses a sense of identity, nursing theory can help patients, managers, and other healthcare professionals to acknowledge and understand the unique contribution that nurses make to the healthcare service (Draper, 1990).
  • Nursing theories prepare the nurses to reflect on the assumptions and question the nursing values, thus further defining nursing and increasing the knowledge base.
  • Nursing theories aim to define, predict, and demonstrate nursing phenomenon (Chinn and Jacobs, 1978).
  • It can be regarded as an attempt by the nursing profession to maintain and preserve its professional limits and boundaries.
  • Nursing theories can help guide research and informing evidence-based practice.
  • Provide a common language and terminology for nurses to use in communication and practice.
  • Serves as a basis for the development of nursing education and training programs.
  • In many cases, nursing theories guide knowledge development and directs education, research, and practice, although each influences the others. (Fitzpatrick and Whall, 2005).

Purposes of Nursing Theories

The primary purpose of theory in nursing is to improve practice by positively influencing the health and quality of life of patients. Nursing theories are essential for the development and advancement of the nursing profession. Nursing theories are also developed to define and describe nursing care, guide nursing practice, and provide a basis for clinical decision-making . In the past, the accomplishments of nursing led to the recognition of nursing in an academic discipline, research, and profession.

Much of the earlier nursing programs identified the major concepts in one or two nursing models, organized the concepts, and build an entire nursing curriculum around the created framework. These models’ unique language was typically introduced into program objectives, course objectives, course descriptions, and clinical performance criteria. The purpose was to explain the fundamental implications of the profession and enhance the profession’s status.

The development of theory is fundamental to the research process, where it is necessary to use theory as a framework to provide perspective and guidance to the research study. Theory can also be used to guide the research process by creating and testing phenomena of interest. To improve the nursing profession’s ability to meet societal duties and responsibilities, there needs to be a continuous reciprocal and cyclical connection with theory, practice, and research. This will help connect the perceived “gap” between theory and practice and promote the theory-guided practice.

Clinical practice generates research questions and knowledge for theory. In a clinical setting, its primary contribution has been the facilitation of reflecting, questioning, and thinking about what nurses do. Because nurses and nursing practice are often subordinate to powerful institutional forces and traditions, introducing any framework that encourages nurses to reflect on, question, and think about what they do provide an invaluable service.

Classification of Nursing Theories

There are different ways to categorize nursing theories. They are classified depending on their function, levels of abstraction, or goal orientation.

By Abstraction

There are three major categories when classifying nursing theories based on their level of abstraction: grand theory, middle-range theory, and practice-level theory.

Levels of Nursing Theory According to Abstraction

  • Grand theories are abstract, broad in scope, and complex, therefore requiring further research for clarification.
  • Grand nursing theories do not guide specific nursing interventions but rather provide a general framework and nursing ideas.
  • Grand nursing theorists develop their works based on their own experiences and their time, explaining why there is so much variation among theories.
  • Address the nursing metaparadigm components of person, nursing, health, and environment.
  • More limited in scope (compared to grand theories) and present concepts and propositions at a lower level of abstraction. They address a specific phenomenon in nursing.
  • Due to the difficulty of testing grand theories, nursing scholars proposed using this level of theory.
  • Most middle-range theories are based on a grand theorist’s works, but they can be conceived from research, nursing practice, or the theories of other disciplines.
  • Practice nursing theories are situation-specific theories that are narrow in scope and focuses on a specific patient population at a specific time.
  • Practice-level nursing theories provide frameworks for nursing interventions and suggest outcomes or the effect of nursing practice.
  • Theories developed at this level have a more direct effect on nursing practice than more abstract theories.
  • These theories are interrelated with concepts from middle-range theories or grand theories.

By Goal Orientation

Theories can also be classified based on their goals. They can be descriptive or prescriptive .

Descriptive Theories

  • Descriptive theories are the first level of theory development. They describe the phenomena and identify its properties and components in which it occurs.
  • Descriptive theories are not action-oriented or attempt to produce or change a situation.
  • There are two types of descriptive theories: factor-isolating theory and explanatory theory .
  • Also known as category-formulating or labeling theory.
  • Theories under this category describe the properties and dimensions of phenomena.
  • Explanatory theories describe and explain the nature of relationships of certain phenomena to other phenomena.
  • Address the nursing interventions for a phenomenon, guide practice change, and predict consequences.
  • Includes propositions that call for change.
  • In nursing, prescriptive theories are used to anticipate the outcomes of nursing interventions.

Classification According to Meleis

Afaf Ibrahim Meleis (2011), in her book  Theoretical Nursing: Development and Progress , organizes the major nurse theories and models using the following headings: needs theories, interaction theories, and outcome theories. These categories indicate the basic philosophical underpinnings of the theories.

  • Needs-Based Theories. The needs theorists were the first group of nurses who thought of giving nursing care a conceptual order. Theories under this group are based on helping individuals to fulfill their physical and mental needs. Theories of Orem, Henderson, and Abdella are categorized under this group. Need theories are criticized for relying too much on the medical model of health and placing the patient in an overtly dependent position.
  • Interaction Theories. These theories emphasized nursing on the establishment and maintenance of relationships. They highlighted the impact of nursing on patients and how they interact with the environment, people, and situations. Theories of King, Orlando, and Travelbee are grouped under this category.
  • Outcome Theories . These theories describe the nurse as controlling and directing patient care using their knowledge of the human physiological and behavioral systems. The nursing theories of Johnson , Levine , Rogers , and Roy belong to this group.

Classification According to Alligood

In her book, Nursing Theorists and Their Work, Raile Alligood (2017) categorized nursing theories into four headings: nursing philosophy, nursing conceptual models, nursing theories and grand theories, and middle-range nursing theories.

  • Nursing Philosophy . It is the most abstract type and sets forth the meaning of nursing phenomena through analysis, reasoning, and logical presentation. Works of Nightingale, Watson, Ray, and Benner are categorized under this group.
  • Nursing Conceptual Models . These are comprehensive nursing theories that are regarded by some as pioneers in nursing. These theories address the nursing metaparadigm and explain the relationship between them. Conceptual models of Levine, Rogers, Roy, King, and Orem are under this group.
  • Grand Nursing Theories. Are works derived from nursing philosophies, conceptual models, and other grand theories that are generally not as specific as middle-range theories. Works of Levine, Rogers, Orem, and King are some of the theories under this category.
  • Middle-Range Theories. Are precise and answer specific nursing practice questions . They address the specifics of nursing situations within the model’s perspective or theory from which they are derived. Examples of Middle-Range theories are that of Mercer, Reed, Mishel, and Barker.

List of Nursing Theories and Theorists

You’ve learned from the previous sections the definition of nursing theory, its significance in nursing, and its purpose in generating a nursing knowledge base. This section will give you an overview and summary of the various published works in nursing theory (in chronological order). Deep dive into learning about the theory by clicking on the links provided for their biography and comprehensive review of their work.

See Also: Florence Nightingale: Environmental Theory and Biography

  • Founder of Modern Nursing and Pioneer of the Environmental Theory. 
  • Defined Nursing as “the act of utilizing the environment of the patient to assist him in his recovery.”
  • Stated that nursing “ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet – all at the least expense of vital power to the patient.”
  • Identified five (5) environmental factors: fresh air, pure water, efficient drainage, cleanliness or sanitation, and light or direct sunlight.

See Also: Hildegard Peplau: Interpersonal Relations Theory

  • Pioneered the Theory of Interpersonal Relations
  • Peplau’s theory defined Nursing as “An interpersonal process of therapeutic interactions between an individual who is sick or in need of health services and a nurse specially educated to recognize, respond to the need for help.”
  • Her work is influenced by Henry Stack Sullivan, Percival Symonds, Abraham Maslow , and Neal Elgar Miller.
  • It helps nurses and healthcare providers develop more therapeutic interventions in the clinical setting.

See Also: Virginia Henderson: Nursing Need Theory 

  • Developed the Nursing Need Theory
  • Focuses on the importance of increasing the patient’s independence to hasten their progress in the hospital.
  • Emphasizes the basic human needs and how nurses can assist in meeting those needs.
  • “The nurse is expected to carry out a physician’s therapeutic plan, but individualized care is the result of the nurse’s creativity in planning for care.”

See Also: Faye Glenn Abdellah: 21 Nursing Problems Theory

  • Developed the 21 Nursing Problems Theory
  • “Nursing is based on an art and science that molds the attitudes, intellectual competencies, and technical skills of the individual nurse into the desire and ability to help people, sick or well, cope with their health needs.”
  • Changed the focus of nursing from disease-centered to patient-centered and began to include families and the elderly in nursing care.
  • The nursing model is intended to guide care in hospital institutions but can also be applied to community health nursing, as well.
  • Developed The Helping Art of Clinical Nursing conceptual model.
  • Definition of nursing reflects on nurse-midwife experience as “People may differ in their concept of nursing, but few would disagree that nursing is nurturing or caring for someone in a motherly fashion.”
  • Guides the nurse action in the art of nursing and specified four elements of clinical nursing: philosophy, purpose, practice, and art.
  • Clinical nursing is focused on meeting the patient’s perceived need for help in a vision of nursing that indicates considerable importance on the art of nursing.

See Also: Lydia Hall: Care, Cure, Core Theory

  • Developed the Care, Cure, Core Theory is also known  as the “ Three Cs of Lydia Hall . “
  • Hall defined Nursing as the “participation in care, core and cure aspects of patient care , where CARE is the sole function of nurses, whereas the CORE and CURE are shared with other members of the health team.”
  • The major purpose of care is to achieve an interpersonal relationship with the individual to facilitate the development of the core.
  • The “care” circle defines a professional nurse’s primary role, such as providing bodily care for the patient. The “core” is the patient receiving nursing care. The “cure” is the aspect of nursing that involves the administration of medications and treatments.
  • States in her Human-to-Human Relationship Model that the purpose of nursing was to help and support an individual, family, or community to prevent or cope with the struggles of illness and suffering and, if necessary, to find significance in these occurrences, with the ultimate goal being the presence of hope.
  • Nursing was accomplished through human-to-human relationships.
  • Extended the interpersonal relationship theories of Peplau and Orlando.
  • Developed the Child Health Assessment Model .
  • Concerns improving the health of infants and their families.
  • Her findings on parent-child interaction as an important predictor of cognitive development helped shape public policy.
  • She is the founder of the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training Project (NCAST), which produces and develops research-based products, assessment , and training programs to teach professionals, parents, and other caregivers the skills to provide nurturing environments for young children.
  • Borrows from psychology and human development and focuses on mother-infant interaction with the environment.
  • Contributed a close link to practice that has modified the way health care providers assess children in light of the parent-child relationship.
  • Focuses on the development of models and theories on the concept of nursing.
  • Includes the profession’s goal, the beneficiary of the professional service, the role of the professional, the source of the beneficiary’s difficulty, the intervention of the professional, and the consequences.
  • A good example of using a unique basis of nursing for further expansion.
  • A Model for Nursing Based on a Model of Living
  • Logan produced a simple theory, “which actually helped bedside nurses.”
  • The trio collaborated in the fourth edition of The Elements of Nursing: A Model for Nursing Based on a Model of Living and prepared a monograph entitled The Roper-Logan-Tierney Model of Nursing: Based on Activities of Daily Living.
  • Includes maintaining a safe environment, communicating, breathing, eating and drinking, eliminating, personal cleansing and dressing , controlling body temperature, mobilizing, working and playing, expressing sexuality, sleeping , and dying .

See Also: Ida Jean Orlando: Nursing Process Theory

  • She developed the Nursing Process Theory.
  • “Patients have their own meanings and interpretations of situations, and therefore nurses must validate their inferences and analyses with patients before drawing conclusions.”
  • Allows nurses to formulate an effective nursing care plan that can also be easily adapted when and if any complexity comes up with the patient.
  • According to her, persons become patients requiring nursing care when they have needs for help that cannot be met independently because of their physical limitations, negative reactions to an environment, or experience that prevents them from communicating their needs.
  • The role of the nurse is to find out and meet the patient’s immediate needs for help.

See Also: Jean Watson: Theory of Human Caring

  • She pioneered the Philosophy and Theory of Transpersonal Caring .
  • “Nursing is concerned with promoting health, preventing illness, caring for the sick, and restoring health.”
  • Mainly concerns with how nurses care for their patients and how that caring progresses into better plans to promote health and wellness, prevent illness and restore health.
  • Focuses on health promotion , as well as the treatment of diseases.
  • Caring is central to nursing practice and promotes health better than a simple medical cure.

Marilyn Anne Ray

  • Developed the Theory of Bureaucratic Caring
  • “Improved patient safety , infection control, reduction in medication errors , and overall quality of care in complex bureaucratic health care systems cannot occur without knowledge and understanding of complex organizations, such as the political and economic systems, and spiritual-ethical caring, compassion and right action for all patients and professionals.”
  • Challenges participants in nursing to think beyond their usual frame of reference and envision the world holistically while considering the universe as a hologram.
  • Presents a different view of how health care organizations and nursing phenomena interrelate as wholes and parts in the system.
  • Caring, Clinical Wisdom, and Ethics in Nursing Practice
  • “The nurse-patient relationship is not a uniform, professionalized blueprint but rather a kaleidoscope of intimacy and distance in some of the most dramatic, poignant, and mundane moments of life.”
  • Attempts to assert and reestablish nurses’ caring practices when nurses are rewarded more for efficiency, technical skills, and measurable outcomes.
  • States that caring practices are instilled with knowledge and skill regarding everyday human needs.
  • Philosophy of Caring
  • “Nursing is founded on caring for life, on neighborly love, […]At the same time, the nurse must be professionally educated.”
  • Human beings are created and are beings for whom we may have administrative responsibility.
  • Caring, solidarity, and moral practice are unavoidable realities.
  • Theory of Carative Caring
  • “Caritative nursing means that we take ‘caritas’ into use when caring for the human being in health and suffering […] Caritative caring is a manifestation of the love that ‘just exists’ […] Caring communion, true caring, occurs when the one caring in a spirit of caritas alleviates the suffering of the patient.”
  • The ultimate goal of caring is to lighten suffering and serve life and health.
  • Inspired many in the Nordic countries and used it as the basis of research, education, and clinical practice.

See Also: Myra Estrin Levine: Conservation Model for Nursing

  • According to the Conservation Model , “Nursing is human interaction.”
  • Provides a framework within which to teach beginning nursing students.
  • Logically congruent, externally and internally consistent, has breadth and depth, and is understood, with few exceptions, by professionals and consumers of health care.

See Also: Martha Rogers: Theory of Unitary Human Beings

  • In Roger’s Theory of Human Beings , she defined Nursing as “an art and science that is humanistic and humanitarian.
  • The Science of Unitary Human Beings contains two dimensions: the science of nursing, which is the knowledge specific to the field of nursing that comes from scientific research; and the art of nursing, which involves using nursing creatively to help better the lives of the patient.
  • A patient can’t be separated from his or her environment when addressing health and treatment.

See Also: Dorothea E. Orem: Self-Care Theory

  • In her Self-Care Theory , she defined Nursing as “The act of assisting others in the provision and management of self-care to maintain or improve human functioning at the home level of effectiveness.”
  • Focuses on each individual’s ability to perform self-care .
  • Composed of three interrelated theories: (1) the theory of self-care , (2) the self-care deficit theory, and (3) the theory of nursing systems, which is further classified into wholly compensatory, partially compensatory, and supportive-educative.

See Also: Imogene M. King: Theory of Goal Attainment

  • Conceptual System and Middle-Range Theory of Goal Attainment
  • “Nursing is a process of action, reaction and interaction by which nurse and client share information about their perception in a nursing situation” and “a process of human interactions between nurse and client whereby each perceives the other and the situation, and through communication , they set goals, explore means, and agree on means to achieve goals.”
  • Focuses on this process to guide and direct nurses in the nurse-patient relationship, going hand-in-hand with their patients to meet good health goals.
  • Explains that the nurse and patient go hand-in-hand in communicating information, set goals together, and then take actions to achieve those goals.

See Also: Betty Neuman: Neuman’s Systems Model

  • In Neuman’s System Model , she  defined nursing as a “unique profession in that is concerned with all of the variables affecting an individual’s response to stress.”
  • The focus is on the client as a system (which may be an individual, family, group, or community) and on the client’s responses to stressors.
  • The client system includes five variables (physiological, psychological, sociocultural, developmental, and spiritual). It is conceptualized as an inner core (basic energy resources) surrounded by concentric circles that include lines of resistance, a normal defense line, and a flexible line of defense.

See Also: Sister Callista Roy:  Adaptation Model of Nursing

  • In Adaptation Model , Roy defined nursing as a “health care profession that focuses on human life processes and patterns and emphasizes the promotion of health for individuals, families, groups, and society as a whole.”
  • Views the individual as a set of interrelated systems that strives to maintain a balance between various stimuli.
  • Inspired the development of many middle-range nursing theories and adaptation instruments.

See Also: Dorothy E. Johnson:  Behavioral Systems Model

  • The Behavioral System Model defined Nursing as “an external regulatory force that acts to preserve the organization and integrate the patients’ behaviors at an optimum level under those conditions in which the behavior constitutes a threat to the physical or social health or in which illness is found.”
  • Advocates to foster efficient and effective behavioral functioning in the patient to prevent illness and stresses the importance of research-based knowledge about the effect of nursing care on patients.
  • Describes the person as a behavioral system with seven subsystems: the achievement, attachment-affiliative, aggressive-protective, dependency, ingestive, eliminative, and sexual subsystems.
  • The Theory of Nursing as Caring: A Model for Transforming Practice
  • Nursing is an “exquisitely interwoven” unity of aspects of the discipline and profession of nursing.
  • Nursing’s focus and aim as a discipline of knowledge and a professional service are “nurturing persons living to care and growing in caring.”
  • Caring in nursing is “an altruistic, active expression of love, and is the intentional and embodied recognition of value and connectedness.”
  • Transitions Theory
  • It began with observations of experiences faced as people deal with changes related to health, well-being, and the ability to care for themselves.
  • Types of transitions include developmental, health and illness, situational, and organizational.
  • Acknowledges the role of nurses as they help people go through health/illness and life transitions.
  • Focuses on assisting nurses in facilitating patients’, families’, and communities’ healthy transitions.

See Also: Nola Pender: Health Promotion Model

  • Health Promotion Model
  • Describes the interaction between the nurse and the consumer while considering the role of the health promotion environment.
  • It focuses on three areas: individual characteristics and experiences, behavior-specific cognitions and affect, and behavioral outcomes.
  • Describes the multidimensional nature of persons as they interact within their environment to pursue health.

See Also:  Madeleine M. Leininger: Transcultural Nursing Theory

  • Culture Care Theory of Diversity and Universality
  • Defined transcultural nursing as “a substantive area of study and practice focused on comparative cultural care (caring) values, beliefs, and practices of individuals or groups of similar or different cultures to provide culture-specific and universal nursing care practices in promoting health or well-being or to help people to face unfavorable human conditions, illness, or death in culturally meaningful ways.”
  • Involves learning and understanding various cultures regarding nursing and health-illness caring practices, beliefs, and values to implement significant and efficient nursing care services to people according to their cultural values and health-illness context.
  • It focuses on the fact that various cultures have different and unique caring behaviors and different health and illness values, beliefs, and patterns of behaviors.
  • Health as Expanding Consciousness
  • “Nursing is the process of recognizing the patient in relation to the environment, and it is the process of the understanding of consciousness.”
  • “The theory of health as expanding consciousness was stimulated by concern for those for whom health as the absence of disease or disability is not possible . . . “
  • Nursing is regarded as a connection between the nurse and patient, and both grow in the sense of higher levels of consciousness.
  • Human Becoming Theory
  • “Nursing is a science, and the performing art of nursing is practiced in relationships with persons (individuals, groups, and communities) in their processes of becoming.”
  • Explains that a person is more than the sum of the parts, the environment, and the person is inseparable and that nursing is a human science and art that uses an abstract body of knowledge to help people.
  • It centered around three themes: meaning, rhythmicity, and transcendence.
  • Modeling and Role-Modeling
  • “Nursing is the holistic helping of persons with their self-care activities in relation to their health . . . The goal is to achieve a state of perceived optimum health and contentment.”
  • Modeling is a process that allows nurses to understand the unique perspective of a client and learn to appreciate its importance.
  • Role-modeling occurs when the nurse plans and implements interventions that are unique for the client.
  • Created the Symphonological Bioethical Theory
  • “Symphonology (from ‘ symphonia ,’ a Greek word meaning agreement) is a system of ethics based on the terms and preconditions of an agreement.”
  • Nursing cannot occur without both nurse and patient. “A nurse takes no actions that are not interactions.”
  • Founded on the singular concept of human rights, the essential agreement of non-aggression among rational people forms the foundation of all human interaction.
  • Maternal Role Attainment—Becoming a Mother
  • “Nursing is a dynamic profession with three major foci: health promotion and prevention of illness, providing care for those who need professional assistance to achieve their optimal level of health and functioning, and research to enhance the knowledge base for providing excellent nursing care.”
  • “Nurses are the health professionals having the most sustained and intense interaction with women in the maternity cycle.”
  • Maternal role attainment is an interactional and developmental process occurring over time. The mother becomes attached to her infant, acquires competence in the caretaking tasks involved in the role, and expresses pleasure and gratification. (Mercer, 1986).
  • Provides proper health care interventions for nontraditional mothers for them to favorably adopt a strong maternal identity.
  • Uncertainty in Illness Theory
  • Presents a comprehensive structure to view the experience of acute and chronic illness and organize nursing interventions to promote optimal adjustment.
  • Describes how individuals form meaning from illness-related situations.
  • The original theory’s concepts were organized in a linear model around the following three major themes: Antecedents of uncertainty, Process of uncertainty appraisal, and Coping with uncertainty.
  • Self-Transcendence Theory
  • Self-transcendence refers to the fluctuation of perceived boundaries that extend the person (or self) beyond the immediate and constricted views of self and the world (Reed, 1997).
  • Has three basic concepts: vulnerability, self-transcendence, and well-being.
  • Gives insight into the developmental nature of humans associated with health circumstances connected to nursing care.
  • Theory of Illness Trajectory
  • “The uncertainty surrounding a chronic illness like cancer is the uncertainty of life writ large. By listening to those who are tolerating this exaggerated uncertainty, we can learn much about the trajectory of living.”
  • Provides a framework for nurses to understand how cancer patients stand uncertainty manifested as a loss of control.
  • Provides new knowledge on how patients and families endure uncertainty and work strategically to reduce uncertainty through a dynamic flow of illness events, treatment situations, and varied players involved in care organization.
  • Theory of Chronic Sorrow
  • “Chronic sorrow is the presence of pervasive grief -related feelings that have been found to occur periodically throughout the lives of individuals with chronic health conditions, their family caregivers and the bereaved.”
  • This middle-range theory defines the aspect of chronic sorrow as a normal response to the ongoing disparity created by the loss.
  • Barker’s Tidal Model of Mental Health Recovery is widely used in mental health nursing.
  • It focuses on nursing’s fundamental care processes, is universally applicable, and is a practical guide for psychiatry and mental health nursing.
  • Draws on values about relating to people and help others in their moments of distress. The values of the Tidal Model are revealed in the Ten Commitments: Value the voice, Respect the language, Develop genuine curiosity, Become the apprentice, Use the available toolkit, Craft the step beyond, Give the gift of time, Reveal personal wisdom, Know that change is constant, and Be transparent.
  • Theory of Comfort
  • “Comfort is an antidote to the stressors inherent in health care situations today, and when comfort is enhanced, patients and families are strengthened for the tasks ahead. Also, nurses feel more satisfied with the care they are giving.”
  • Patient comfort exists in three forms: relief, ease, and transcendence. These comforts can occur in four contexts: physical, psychospiritual, environmental, and sociocultural.
  • As a patient’s comfort needs change, the nurse’s interventions change, as well.
  • Postpartum Depression Theory
  • “The birth of a baby is an occasion for joy—or so the saying goes […] But for some women, joy is not an option.”
  • Described nursing as a caring profession with caring obligations to persons we care for, students, and each other.
  • Provides evidence to understand and prevent postpartum depression .
  • Theory of Caring
  • “Caring is a nurturing way of relating to a valued other toward whom one feels a personal sense of commitment and responsibility.”
  • Defines nursing as informed caring for the well-being of others.
  • Offers a structure for improving up-to-date nursing practice, education, and research while bringing the discipline to its traditional values and caring-healing roots.
  • Peaceful End-of-Life Theory
  • The focus was not on death itself but on providing a peaceful and meaningful living in the time that remained for patients and their significant others.
  • The purpose was to reflect the complexity involved in caring for terminally ill patients.
  • Also known as Wanda Horta, she introduced the concepts of nursing that are accepted in Brazil.
  • Wrote the book Nursing Process which presents relevance to the various fields of Nursing practice for providing a holistic view of the patient.
  • Her work was recognized in all the teaching institutions called the Theory of Basic Human Needs . It is based on Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation, whose primary concept is the hierarchy of Basic Human Needs (BHN).
  • Horta’s Theory of Basic Human Needs is considered the highest point of her work, and the summary of all her research concludes sickness as a science and art of assisting a human being in meeting basic human needs, making the patient independent of this assistance through education in recovery, maintenance, and health promotion .
  • Classified basic human needs into three main dimensions – psychobiological, psychosocial and psychospiritual – and establishes a relationship between the concepts of human being, environment, and nursing.
  • The theory describes nursing as an element of a healthcare team and states that it can function efficiently through a scientific method. Horta referred this method as the nursing process .
  • She defined the nursing process as the dynamics of systematic and interrelated actions to assist human beings. It is characterized by six phases: nursing history, nursing diagnosis , assistance plan, care plan or nursing prescription, evolution, and prognosis.

Recommended books and resources to learn more about nursing theory:

Disclosure: Included below are affiliate links from Amazon at no additional cost from you. We may earn a small commission from your purchase. For more information, check out our privacy policy .

  • Nursing Theorists and Their Work (10th Edition) by Alligood Nursing Theorists and Their Work, 10th Edition provides a clear, in-depth look at nursing theories of historical and international significance. Each chapter presents a key nursing theory or philosophy, showing how systematic theoretical evidence can enhance decision making, professionalism, and quality of care.
  • Knowledge Development in Nursing: Theory and Process (11th Edition) Use the five patterns of knowing to help you develop sound clinical judgment. This edition reflects the latest thinking in nursing knowledge development and adds emphasis to real-world application. The content in this edition aligns with the new 2021 AACN Essentials for Nursing Education.
  • Nursing Knowledge and Theory Innovation, Second Edition: Advancing the Science of Practice (2nd Edition) This text for graduate-level nursing students focuses on the science and philosophy of nursing knowledge development. It is distinguished by its focus on practical applications of theory for scholarly, evidence-based approaches. The second edition features important updates and a reorganization of information to better highlight the roles of theory and major philosophical perspectives.
  • Nursing Theories and Nursing Practice (5th Edition) The only nursing research and theory book with primary works by the original theorists. Explore the historical and contemporary theories that are the foundation of nursing practice today. The 5th Edition, continues to meet the needs of today’s students with an expanded focus on the middle range theories and practice models.
  • Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing (6th Edition) The clearest, most useful introduction to theory development methods. Reflecting vast changes in nursing practice, it covers advances both in theory development and in strategies for concept, statement, and theory development. It also builds further connections between nursing theory and evidence-based practice.
  • Middle Range Theory for Nursing (4th Edition) This nursing book’s ability to break down complex ideas is part of what made this book a three-time recipient of the AJN Book of the Year award. This edition includes five completely new chapters of content essential for nursing books. New exemplars linking middle range theory to advanced nursing practice make it even more useful and expand the content to make it better.
  • Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice This book offers balanced coverage of both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. This edition features new content on trending topics, including the Next-Generation NCLEX® Exam (NGN).
  • Nursing Research (11th Edition) AJN award-winning authors Denise Polit and Cheryl Beck detail the latest methodologic innovations in nursing, medicine, and the social sciences. The updated 11th Edition adds two new chapters designed to help students ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of research methods. Extensively revised content throughout strengthens students’ ability to locate and rank clinical evidence.

Recommended site resources related to nursing theory:

  • Nursing Theories and Theorists: The Definitive Guide for Nurses MUST READ! In this guide for nursing theories, we aim to help you understand what comprises a nursing theory and its importance, purpose, history, types or classifications, and give you an overview through summaries of selected nursing theories.

Other resources related to nursing theory:

  • Betty Neuman: Neuman Systems Model
  • Dorothea Orem: Self-Care Deficit Theory
  • Dorothy Johnson: Behavioral System Model
  • Faye Abdellah: 21 Nursing Problems Theory
  • Florence Nightingale: Environmental Theory
  • Hildegard Peplau: Interpersonal Relations Theory
  • Ida Jean Orlando: Deliberative Nursing Process Theory
  • Imogene King: Theory of Goal Attainment
  • Jean Watson: Theory of Human Caring
  • Lydia Hall: Care, Cure, Core Nursing Theory
  • Madeleine Leininger: Transcultural Nursing Theory
  • Martha Rogers: Science of Unitary Human Beings
  • Myra Estrin Levine: The Conservation Model of Nursing
  • Nola Pender: Health Promotion Model
  • Sister Callista Roy: Adaptation Model of Nursing
  • Virginia Henderson: Nursing Need Theory

Suggested readings and resources for this study guide :

  • Alligood, M., & Tomey, A. (2010). Nursing theorists and their work, seventh edition (No ed.). Maryland Heights: Mosby-Elsevier.
  • Alligood, M. R. (2017).  Nursing Theorists and Their Work-E-Book . Elsevier Health Sciences.
  • Barnard, K. E. (1984). Nursing research related to infants and young children. In  Annual review of nursing research  (pp. 3-25). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  • Brown, H. I. (1979).  Perception, theory, and commitment: The new philosophy of science . University of Chicago Press. [ Link ]
  • Brown M (1964) Research in the development of nursing theory: the importance of a theoretical framework in nursing research. Nursing Research.
  • Camacho, A. C. L. F., & Joaquim, F. L. (2017). Reflections based on Wanda Horta on the basic instruments of nursing. Rev Enferm UFPE [Internet], 11(12), 5432-8.
  • Chinn, P. L., & Jacobs, M. K. (1978). A model for theory development in nursing.  Advances in Nursing Science ,  1 (1), 1-12. [ Link ]
  • Colley, S. (2003). Nursing theory: its importance to practice. Nursing Standard (through 2013), 17(46), 33. [ Link ]
  • Fawcett, J. (2005). Criteria for evaluation of theory. Nursing science quarterly, 18(2), 131-135. [ Link ]
  • Fitzpatrick, J. J., & Whall, A. L. (Eds.). (1996).  Conceptual models of nursing: Analysis and application . Connecticut, Norwalk: Appleton & Lange.
  • Kaplan, A. (2017).  The conduct of inquiry: Methodology for behavioural science . Routledge. [ Link ]
  • Meleis, A. I. (2011).  Theoretical nursing: Development and progress . Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Neuman, B. M., & Fawcett, J. (2002). The Neuman systems model .
  • Nightingale F (1860) Notes on Nursing. New York NY, Appleton.
  • Perão, O. F., Zandonadi, G. C., Rodríguez, A. H., Fontes, M. S., Nascimento, E. L. P., & Santos, E. K. A. (2017). Patient safety in an intensive care unit according to Wanda Horta’s theory. Cogitare Enfermagem, 22(3), e45657.
  • Peplau H (1988) The art and science of nursing: similarities, differences, and relations. Nursing Science Quarterly
  • Rogers M (1970) An Introduction to the Theoretical Basis of Nursing. Philadelphia PA, FA Davis.

49 thoughts on “Nursing Theories and Theorists: The Definitive Guide for Nurses”

Great work indeed

Amazing and simple post I have ever come across about nursing theories.

Thank you for the simplicity

where do i find the reference page in apa format?

The reference listed below the article is in APA format.

i love this. insightful. Comprehensive ,Well researched .

Thank you for these theories they are a life saver and simplified. My school require us to write about 2 nursing theorist from memory for a Comprehensive exam in which if you do not pass it you are required to wait for a year to retake the exam.

Merci beaucoup, puisque je suis très satisfait.

I’m pleased to congratulate you about your work! I really appreciate it! From: Cameroon

An entire’s semester worth of a nursing theory class, expertly and succinctly summarized in one paper. I wish my instructor were as easy to understand. Good work.

I thought this was in a chronological order based on their published works date? Then why Orlando’s theory comes at the later part? Can someone englighten me please because I am making a timeline for our project.

Great job. Very clear and succinct.

I like it. Well explained!

easy to understand and very helpful

thankyou very much.

The article was beneficial to me to understand nursing theories

This is amazing and I love it so enriching!

Thanks for the article may God bless you more Plus More Power and Protection

Thanks so much

Please can someone help me with a nursing theory related to “teamwork” please

Thank you so much !

I loved the text and saw that the nursing theorist Wanda Aguiar Horta, a Brazilian nurse and great theorist regarding basic human needs, was not included.

I suggest reviewing and including it to be more complete.

If you need, I can help with inclusion!

Best Regards

Hi João Carlos, we’d love to hear about her work. Please send us the details via our contact page: https://nurseslabs.com/contact/

Excellent study guide! Detailed, Informative and Valued! Thank you!

hi can someone help me which theorist can relate in Ear, Nose, Throat nursing care.

Wonderful contribution of shared knowledge- now how do we get the word out for nurses that are not able to afford a BSN?

Thanks for the work. It’s very helpful

This has helped me understand theories a bit better, however, there is one that is eluding me. Where does the normative theory fit in?

very educative.I have understood theories more than before.Thanks

hard work. great work in deed

I love reading your material, plain concise and easy

Very informative, more knowledgeable about the theorist

Thank you for your information. This material is great and when I have looked for material for nursing theory. I got is material with complete

A big hand of applause 👏🏿 This is a treasure for nurses of the world. Thank you so much

Hi G. ALex,

Wow, thanks for the awesome feedback! 😊 Super glad you found it to be a treasure. Just curious, was there a particular section that stood out to you or something you’d love to see more of? Always keen to hear what resonates with fellow nurses!

This is really hard work put together in a very easy to understand way.Thank you so much.It came handy

Hi Sigala, Thanks a ton for noticing the effort! 😊 Super happy to hear it came in handy for you. If you ever have suggestions or topics you’d like to see, give me a shout. Cheers to making things understandable!

Absolutely helpful. Thank you.

So glad to hear the nursing theories guide was a hit for you! 😊 If you have any other topics or questions in mind, just give a shout. Always here to help. Keep rocking your studies! Thanks Ishe!

Am happy, to read these theories, very educating. Am going to make use of it when caring for my patients. GREAT NURSES GREAT! I LOVE YOU ALL.

Hi Eboh, I’m thrilled to hear you’re excited about applying these nursing theories in practice! They can really enhance the care we provide. It’s all about putting that knowledge to good use. By the way, which theory resonated with you the most, or which do you see being most applicable in your day-to-day patient care?

How do I relate one of the theories to effective management of intravenous lines? Which theory and how to relate to the above?

Hi wanted to ask you who wrote this page who is the autor because i need to write them on footnotes and i can’t find autor of the page,neither the year it was published. Thank you. Btw this article was really helpful i never understood nursing theories this good.

Hey there Innaya, I’m glad to hear the article on nursing theories was so helpful to you! Here’s how you can cite it in APA format:

Vera, M. (2019, September 11). Nursing Theories and Theorists: The Definitive Guide for Nurses Nurseslabs. https://nurseslabs.com/nursing-theories/

If you need any more help with citations or have other questions, feel free to ask. Happy to assist!

Please is there an app I could download all these from?

Hi Felicia, Thanks for your interest! As of now, we don’t have a dedicated app for downloading our content. However, our website is mobile-friendly, so you can easily access all our resources from your smartphone or tablet browser.

wonderful insights, and very precise and easy to understand, I even got to know and learn about other new theorists of Nursing I didn’t know before.

Thank you so much for this wonderful work.

Its so amazing and very helpful. Please how can I cite any of these theory using Vancouver?

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What Is Nursing Theory?

3 min read • July, 05 2023

Nursing theories provide a foundation for clinical decision-making. These theoretical models in nursing shape nursing research and create conceptual blueprints, ultimately determining the how and why that drive nurse-patient interactions.

Nurse researchers and scholars naturally develop these theories with the input and influence of other professionals in the field.

Why Is Nursing Theory Important?

Nursing theory concepts are essential to the present and future of the profession. The first nursing theory — Florence Nightingale's Environmental Theory — dates back to the 19th century. Nightingale identified a clear link between a patient's environment (such as clean water, sunlight, and fresh air) and their ability to recover. Her discoveries remain relevant for today's practitioners. As health care continues to develop, new types of nursing theories may evolve to reflect new medicines and technologies.

Education and training showcase the importance of nursing theory. Nurse researchers and scholars share established ideas to ensure industry-wide best practices and patient outcomes, and nurse educators shape their curricula based on this research. When nurses learn these theories, they gain the data to explain the reasoning behind their clinical decision-making. Nurses position themselves to provide the best care by familiarizing themselves with time-tested theories. Recognizing their place in the history of nursing provides a validating sense of belonging within the greater health care system. That helps patients and other health care providers better understand and appreciate nurses’ contributions.

Types of Nursing Theories

Nursing theories fall under three tiers: grand nursing, middle-range, and practical-level theories . Inherent to each is the nursing metaparadigm , which focuses on four components:

  • The person (sometimes referred to as the patient or client)
  • Their environment (physical and emotional)
  • Their health while receiving treatment
  • The nurse's approach and attributes

Each of these four elements factors into a specific nursing theory.

Grand Nursing Theories

Grand theories are the broadest of the three theory classifications. They offer wide-ranging perspectives focused on abstract concepts, often stemming from a nurse theorist’s lived experiences or nursing philosophies. Grand nursing theories help to guide research in the field, with studies aiming to explore proposed ideas further.

Hildegard Peplau's Theory of Interpersonal Relations is an excellent example of a grand nursing theory. The theory suggests that for a nurse-patient relationship to be successful, it must go through three phases: orientation, working, and termination. This grand theory is broad in scope and widely applicable to different environments.

Middle-Range Nursing Theories

As the name suggests, middle-range theories lie somewhere between the sweeping scope of grand nursing and a minute focus on practice-level theories. These theories are often phenomena-driven, attempting to explain or predict certain trends in clinical practice. They’re also testable or verifiable through research.

Nurse researchers have applied the concept of Dorothea E. Orem's Self-Care Deficit Theory to patients dealing with various conditions, ranging from hepatitis to diabetes. This grand theory suggests that patients recover most effectively if they actively and autonomously perform self-care.

Practice-Level Nursing Theories

Practice-level theories are more specific to a patient’s needs or goals. These theories guide the treatment of health conditions and situations requiring nursing intervention. Because they’re so specific, these types of nursing theories directly impact daily practices more than other theory classifications. From patient education to practicing active compassion, bedside nurses use these theories in their everyday responsibilities.

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Nursing Theory in Practice

Theory and practice inform each other. Nursing theories determine research that shapes policies and procedures. Nurses constantly apply theories to patient interactions, consciously or due to training. For example, a nurse who aims to provide culturally competent care — through a commitment to ongoing education and open-mindedness — puts Madeleine Leininger's Transcultural Nursing Theory into effect. Because nursing is multifaceted, nurses can draw from multiple theories to ensure the best course of action for a patient.

Applying theory in nursing practice develops nursing knowledge and supports evidence-based practice. A nursing theoretical framework is essential to understand decision-making processes and to promote quality patient care.

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Nursing Theories & Theorists Explained

What is nursing theory.

  • Nursing Theory Users
  • Metaparadigms

Nursing Theorists

Nursing theory in practice.

Female nurse thinking

Nursing theory is "a creative and rigorous structuring of ideas that project a tentative, purposeful, and systematic view of phenomena," per the book  Integrated Theory and Knowledge Development in Nursing.

Nursing theory provides the foundational knowledge that enables nurses to care for their patients and guides their actions. Theories are in place, regardless of nursing specialization, to establish guidelines for both broad and specific nursing practices.

Nursing theory is heavily influenced by Florence Nightingale's pioneering work, which significantly influenced the modern  nursing definition . Nightingale's Environmental Theory stated that nursing “ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet – all at the least expense of vital power to the patient.” 

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By identifying potential risk factors for illness or conditions that would exacerbate an illness and potentially lead to death, Nightingale saw the importance of a patient’s environment to their overall health and well-being. As a result, healthcare professionals, including nurses, began to treat patients differently and the start of population health and public health is seen. 

In Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory, she identified five environmental factors: 

  • Efficient drainage 
  • Cleanliness or sanitation
  • Light or direct sunlight

These factors were essential to decrease the spread of contagious diseases and decreasing mortality and morbidity. 

While Florence Nightingale may have introduced the first nursing theory in 1860, it is still extremely relevant today. In countries where fresh air, pure water, efficient drainage, cleanliness or sanitation, and light or direct sunlight are not present, morbidity and mortality are increased. 

What are Nursing Theories Used For?

Nursing theories provide the foundation for nursing practice and are essential to the care of patients. Academic hospitals and Magnet hospitals will consistently ensure that nursing theories are incorporated into their policies and procedures to ensure best practice is being used. 

Most nurses and institutions will employ a variety of nursing theories within their everyday practice versus just one theory. Most do it unknowingly. 

Nursing theories help bedside nurses evaluate patient care and base nursing interventions on the evaluation of the findings. 

The theories can also provide nurses with the rationale to make certain decisions. An example of a nursing theory in use is seen in the care of a Jehovah’s Witnesses patient that does not believe in blood transfusions. While the patient may need a blood transfusion, Dorothea Orem’s Self-Care theory provides nurses with a solid basis for assisting their patients and giving them the opportunity to express independence and control in caring for themselves. While the nurse may not agree with the patient’s decision to not receive a blood transfusion, Orem’s theory suggests the importance of allowing the patient to make the decision and respecting it as their own choice. 

Oftentimes, the integration of nursing theory is not as obvious as in the aforementioned example. However, it is important for nurses and nursing students to understand and respect the importance of nursing theories and their impact on modern-day nursing and healthcare. 

Who are Nursing Theories Used By?

While all nurses, regardless of position and specialty, utilize nursing theories in their practice, not all nurses are aware of their implications. Generally speaking, most nursing theories are used by nurse educators and nurse researchers. 

Nurse educators will utilize nursing theories in designing course curriculums based on educational principles, research, and theories to provide nursing students with the knowledge and skills needed to provide care to their patients. 

Nurse researchers will conduct theory-guided research in order to create best practices and to predict potential clinical problems or explain existing knowledge. 

Nursing Metaparadigms

There have been countless nursing theories introduced since Florence Nightingale's Environmental Theory, including Imogene King‘s Theory of Goal and Dorothy Johnson’s Behavioral System Model. What they all have in common is they center around the nursing metaparadigm.

A metaparadigm is a set of theories or ideas that provide structure for how a discipline should function. Nursing metaparadigms were first classified by Fawcett into four specific categories, 

  • Environment

These four concepts are fundamental to all nursing theories and without identification of them and their relevance to the theory, it is incomplete.

Furthermore, these four basic nursing metaparadigms point to the holistic care of a patient and their medical health is interconnected to the four concepts. 

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The Four Main Concepts of Nursing Theory

Fawcett’s four specific concepts help define nursing and set it apart from other disciplines and professions. These four concepts have been used to define the context and content of the nursing profession. The person is the most important concept in nursing theory, but each theorist's interpretation of the other concepts is how to differentiate between them. 

Person (also referred to as Client or Human Being) is the recipient of nursing care and may include individuals, patients, groups, families, and communities.

2. Environment

Environment or situation is defined as the internal and external surroundings that affect the patient. It includes all positive or negative conditions that affect the patient, the physical environment, such as families, friends, and significant others, and the setting for where they go for their healthcare.

Health is defined as the degree of wellness or well-being that the client experiences. It may have different meanings for each patient, the clinical setting, and the health care provider.

The attributes, characteristics, and actions of the nurse providing care on behalf of or in conjunction with, the client. 

Levels of Nursing Theory

Nursing theories are categorized into three levels including, 

  • Grand Nursing Theories
  • Mid-range Nursing Theories
  • Nursing Practice Theories

Grand Nursing Theories 

These are theories based on broad, abstract, and complex concepts. They provide the general framework for nursing ideas pertaining to components such as people and health. These theories typically stem from a nurse theorist’s own experience.

Mid-Range Nursing Theories 

These are theories that drill down into specific areas of nursing rather than deal with sweeping concepts. They can emerge from nursing practice, research, or from the theories of similar disciplines.

Nursing Practice Theories 

These are theories that narrow their focus even further, specifically focusing on concepts concerning a defined patient population. These theories tend to directly affect patients more than the other two types of theories. Bedside nurses will often use these theories in their everyday practice. 

We talked about Nightingale and Orems' role as nursing theorists and reviewed their respective theories. Let's explore the work of some other notable nursing theorists and how their work helps nurses and other healthcare providers give better patient care.

Virginia Henderson: Nursing Need Theory

Virginia Henderson's Nursing Need Theory centers around the concept of basic human needs. Henderson believed that the role of a nurse is to assist individuals in meeting their fundamental needs and help them increase their independence. 

Her theory emphasizes the nurse's role in supporting patients in activities such as:

Maintaining desired postures

Dress and undress


Communicating fears, opinions, and needs, and

Worshiping according to their faith

Jean Watson:  Theory of Human Caring

Jean Watson is a contemporary nursing theorist renowned for her Theory of Human Caring . Watson emphasizes the importance of creating a caring and compassionate relationship between the nurse and the patient. 

Her theory focuses on  ten factors:

Upholding humanistic-altruistic values by practicing kindness and compassion

Being genuinely present and fostering faith, hope, and belief systems while respecting the subjective experiences of oneself and others

Cultivating self-awareness and spiritual practices, transcending ego-centeredness to achieve a transpersonal presence.

Developing and nurturing loving, trusting, and caring relationships

Encouraging the expression of both positive and negative emotions, actively listening to others' stories without judgment

Applying creative problem-solving through the caring-healing process

Engaging in transpersonal teaching and learning within a caring relationship, adapting to the individual's perspective and transitioning towards a coaching approach for enhanced health

Creating a healing environment on various levels, fostering an atmosphere of authentic caring presence at an energetic and subtle level.

Acknowledging the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit while upholding human dignity

Embracing the spiritual, mysterious, and unknown aspects of life

Madeleine Leininger: Transcultural Nursing Theory

Leininger's Transcultural Nursing Theory , also called Culture Care Theory, focuses on providing culturally congruent care by understanding and respecting the values, beliefs, and practices of diverse individuals and groups.

Hildegard Peplau: Interpersonal Relations Theory

Peplau's Interpersonal Theory of Interpersonal Relations emphasizes that the journey of nurse-patient relationships involves three pivotal stages that are essential for their success: 

The initial orientation

A dynamic working phase, and

A  thoughtful termination process

According to Peplau, the nurse's role is to facilitate the patient's growth and development by utilizing therapeutic communication, empathy, and understanding.

Betty Neuman: Neuman Systems Model

The Neuman Systems Model focuses on identifying stressors that have the potential to negatively impact an individual's health and overall well-being. It incorporates various factors such as physiological, psychological, sociocultural, and developmental aspects. 

The theory also provides a flexible structure for assessment, intervention, and evaluation in nursing practice. 

Sister Callista Roy: Adaptation Model

The Roy Adaptation Model is based on the belief that individuals are adaptive systems, constantly interacting with their environment to maintain their physiological and psychosocial integrity. It views the person as a holistic being, consisting of four interconnected adaptive modes:

Physiological Mode: Deals with physical and biological aspects of adaptation, including the body's response to stressors, maintaining homeostasis, and meeting basic physiological needs.

Self-Concept Mode: Focuses on individuals' perception of themselves, including self-esteem and self-image.

Role Function Mode: Considers the roles people have in their lives, such as spouse, parent, employee, or student. 

Interdependence Mode: Emphasizes the importance of social relationships and how individuals interact with others, such as support from social networks.

Martha Rogers: Science of Unitary Human Being

Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings believed that nursing should focus on promoting harmony and balance within the individual and their environment. 

Her theory emphasizes the interconnectedness of human beings with their surroundings and the importance of energy fields in health and healing. Spoken another way, patients cannot be considered as “separate” from their environment.

Patricia Benner: Novice to Expert Theory

Benner's Novice to Expert Theory describes the stages of nursing skill from novice to advanced beginner, and finally, to competent. 

She emphasizes the importance of practical experience and clinical judgment in nursing practice and highlights that expertise develops over time through practice and reflection.

Imogene King: Theory of Goal Attainment

King's Theory of Goal Attainment focuses on the nurse-patient relationship and the mutual goal-setting process. Her theory emphasizes that nurses and patients should collaborate to establish goals that promote the patient's well-being and health.

Katharine Kolcaba: Comfort Theory

Kolcaba's Comfort Theory highlights the significance of providing comfort to patients as a central goal of nursing care. 

Her theory defines comfort as the immediate experience of being strengthened in physical, psychospiritual, environmental, and sociocultural dimensions.

Kolcalba’s framework proposes that healthcare providers:

Assess if patient’s comfort needs are not being met

Create interventions to meet those needs

Measure comfort prior to and after the interventions

Nursing theories are used every day in practice even if nurses aren’t aware of their use. Theories help guide evidence-based research which then leads to best practices and policies. These policies and procedures keep patients safe, while providing the best care possible. 

Nursing theories also allow nurses to positively influence the health and well-being of their patients beyond taking care of them at the bedside. Nursing theory-guided practice helps improve the quality of care delivered and helps continue to move the nursing profession forward into the 21st century. 

Most bedside nurses will not necessarily know the theories behind their practice so their usefulness is often dismissed. Advanced practice nurses, nurse scholars, nurse educators, and nurse researchers are most likely going to be up to date on current nursing theories and their impact on the nursing profession. 

Nursing theories should continue to guide nursing practice both in academia and at the bedside. It allows nurses to provide current best-practice care to their patients while also impacting them beyond the bedside. Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory was groundbreaking during the 1860s and helped change the course of nursing and healthcare while changing the outcomes of patients through the identification of environmental factors that may hinder their health and well-being. 

Nursing Theory FAQs

What are the major nursing theories .

  • All nursing theories encompass person, environment, health, and the nurse and are categorized into three hierarchies: grand nursing theories, middle-range nursing theories, and practice level nursing theories.  

What are examples of nursing theory? 

  • Some examples of nursing theories include the Environmental Theory, the Casey Model of Nursing, the Martha Rogers Theory, the Tidal Model, and the Cultural Care Theory. 

What is the Casey model of nursing?

  • The Casey Model of Nursing is a model of nursing designed to encompass the child-health relationship with five focuses: child, family, health, environment, and the nurse. 

What is Martha Roger's Theory?

  • The Martha Rogers Theory of nursing looks at people as “unitary” human beings that can’t be divided into parts and nursing as a blend of both art and science. 

What is a partnership model in nursing?

  • It’s a patient and family-centered care system that focuses on partnership between the two, along with education, support, communication, and collaborative practice.

What are the principles of the tidal model? 

  • The tidal model of nursing has 6 principles: curiosity, virtue, mystery investigation, respect of the person, crisis as an opportunity, possessing goals, and pursuit of elegance.

Kathleen Gaines

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

Nurses making heats with their hands

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  • Research article
  • Open access
  • Published: 14 June 2021

Nurses in the lead: a qualitative study on the development of distinct nursing roles in daily nursing practice

  • Jannine van Schothorst–van Roekel 1 ,
  • Anne Marie J.W.M. Weggelaar-Jansen 1 ,
  • Carina C.G.J.M. Hilders 1 ,
  • Antoinette A. De Bont 1 &
  • Iris Wallenburg 1  

BMC Nursing volume  20 , Article number:  97 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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Transitions in healthcare delivery, such as the rapidly growing numbers of older people and increasing social and healthcare needs, combined with nursing shortages has sparked renewed interest in differentiations in nursing staff and skill mix. Policy attempts to implement new competency frameworks and job profiles often fails for not serving existing nursing practices. This study is aimed to understand how licensed vocational nurses (VNs) and nurses with a Bachelor of Science degree (BNs) shape distinct nursing roles in daily practice.

A qualitative study was conducted in four wards (neurology, oncology, pneumatology and surgery) of a Dutch teaching hospital. Various ethnographic methods were used: shadowing nurses in daily practice (65h), observations and participation in relevant meetings (n=56), informal conversations (up to 15 h), 22 semi-structured interviews and member-checking with four focus groups (19 nurses in total). Data was analyzed using thematic analysis.

Hospital nurses developed new role distinctions in a series of small-change experiments, based on action and appraisal. Our findings show that: (1) this developmental approach incorporated the nurses’ invisible work; (2) nurses’ roles evolved through the accumulation of small changes that included embedding the new routines in organizational structures; (3) the experimental approach supported the professionalization of nurses, enabling them to translate national legislation into hospital policies and supporting the nurses’ (bottom-up) evolution of practices. The new roles required the special knowledge and skills of Bachelor-trained nurses to support healthcare quality improvement and connect the patients’ needs to organizational capacity.


Conducting small-change experiments, anchored by action and appraisal rather than by design , clarified the distinctions between vocational and Bachelor-trained nurses. The process stimulated personal leadership and boosted the responsibility nurses feel for their own development and the nursing profession in general. This study indicates that experimental nursing role development provides opportunities for nursing professionalization and gives nurses, managers and policymakers the opportunity of a ‘two-way-window’ in nursing role development, aligning policy initiatives with daily nursing practices.

Peer Review reports

The aging population and mounting social and healthcare needs are challenging both healthcare delivery and the financial sustainability of healthcare systems [ 1 , 2 ]. Nurses play an important role in facing these contemporary challenges [ 3 , 4 ]. However, nursing shortages increase the workload which, in turn, boosts resignation numbers of nurses [ 5 , 6 ]. Research shows that nurses resign because they feel undervalued and have insufficient control over their professional practice and organization [ 7 , 8 ]. This issue has sparked renewed interest in nursing role development [ 9 , 10 , 11 ]. A role can be defined by the activities assumed by one person, based on knowledge, modulated by professional norms, a legislative framework, the scope of practice and a social system [ 12 , 9 ].

New nursing roles usually arise through task specialization [ 13 , 14 ] and the development of advanced nursing roles [ 15 , 16 ]. Increasing attention is drawn to role distinction within nursing teams by differentiating the staff and skill mix to meet the challenges of nursing shortages, quality of care and low job satisfaction [ 17 , 18 ]. The staff and skill mix include the roles of enrolled nurses, registered nurses, and nurse assistants [ 19 , 20 ]. Studies on differentiation in staff and skill mix reveal that several countries struggle with the composition of nursing teams [ 21 , 22 , 23 ].

Role distinctions between licensed vocational-trained nurses (VNs) and Bachelor of Science-trained nurses (BNs) has been heavily debated since the introduction of the higher nurse education in the early 1970s, not only in the Netherlands [ 24 , 25 ] but also in Australia [ 26 , 27 ], Singapore [ 20 ] and the United States of America [ 28 , 29 ]. Current debates have focused on the difficulty of designing distinct nursing roles. For example, Gardner et al., revealed that registered nursing roles are not well defined and that job profiles focus on direct patient care [ 30 ]. Even when distinct nursing roles are described, there are no proper guidelines on how these roles should be differentiated and integrated into daily practice. Although the value of differentiating nursing roles has been recognized, it is still not clear how this should be done or how new nursing roles should be embedded in daily nursing practice. Furthermore, the consequences of these roles on nursing work has been insufficiently investigated [ 31 ].

This study reports on a study of nursing teams developing new roles in daily nursing hospital practice. In 2010, the Dutch Ministry of Health announced a law amendment (the Individual Health Care Professions Act) to formalize the distinction between VNs and BNs. The law amendment made a distinction in responsibilities regarding complexity of care, coordination of care, and quality improvement. Professional roles are usually developed top-down at policy level, through competency frameworks and job profiles that are subsequently implemented in nursing practice. In the Dutch case, a national expert committee made two distinct job profiles [ 32 ]. Instead of prescribing role implementation, however, healthcare organizations were granted the opportunity to develop these new nursing roles in practice, aiming for a more practice-based approach to reforming the nursing workforce. This study investigates a Dutch teaching hospital that used an experimental development process in which the nurses developed role distinctions by ‘doing and appraising’. This iterative process evolved in small changes [ 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 ], based on nurses’ thorough knowledge of professional practices [ 37 ] and leadership role [ 38 , 39 , 40 ].

According to Abbott, the constitution of a new role is a competitive action, as it always leads to negotiation of new openings for one profession and/or degradation of adjacent professions [ 41 ]. Additionally, role differentiation requires negotiation between different professionals, which always takes place in the background of historical professionalization processes and vested interests resulting in power-related issues [ 42 , 43 , 44 ]. Recent studies have described the differentiation of nursing roles to other professionals, such as nurse practitioners and nurse assistants, but have focused on evaluating shifts in nursing tasks and roles [ 31 ]. Limited research has been conducted on differentiating between the different roles of registered nurses and the involvement of nurses themselves in developing new nursing roles. An ethnographic study was conducted to shed light on the nurses’ work of seeking openings and negotiating roles and responsibilities and the consequences of role distinctions, against a background of historically shaped relationships and patterns.

The study aimed to understand the formulation of nursing role distinctions between different educational levels in a development process involving experimental action (doing) and appraisal.

We conducted an ethnographic case study. This design was commonly used in nursing studies in researching changing professional practices [ 45 , 46 ]. The researchers gained detailed insights into the nurses’ actions and into the finetuning of their new roles in daily practice, including the meanings, beliefs and values nurses give to their roles [ 47 , 48 ]. This study complied with the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) checklist.

Setting and participants

Our study took place in a purposefully selected Dutch teaching hospital (481 beds, 2,600 employees including 800 nurses). Historically, nurses in Dutch hospitals have vocational training. The introduction of higher nursing education in 1972 prompted debates about distinguishing between vocational-trained nurses (VNs) and bachelor-trained nurses (BNs). For a long time, VNs resisted a role distinction, arguing that their work experience rendered them equally capable to take care of patients and deal with complex needs. As a result, VNs and BNs carry out the same duties and bear equal responsibility. To experiment with role distinctions in daily practice, the hospital management and project team selected a convenience but representative sample of wards. Two general (neurology and surgery) and two specific care (oncology and pneumatology) wards were selected as they represent the different compositions of nursing educational levels (VN, BN and additional specialized training). The demographic profile for the nursing teams is shown in Table  1 . The project team, comprising nursing policy staff, coaches and HR staff ( N  = 7), supported the four (nursing) teams of the wards in their experimental development process (131 nurses; 32 % BNs and 68 % VNs, including seven senior nurses with an organizational role). We also studied the interactions between nurses and team managers ( N  = 4), and the CEO ( N  = 1) in the meetings.

Data collection

Data was collected between July 2017 and January 2019. A broad selection of respondents was made based on the different roles they performed. Respondents were personally approached by the first author, after close consultation with the team managers. Four qualitative research methods were used iteratively combining collection and analysis, as is common in ethnographic studies [ 45 ] (see Table  2 ).

Shadowing nurses (i.e. observations and questioning nurses about their work) on shift (65 h in total) was conducted to observe behavior in detail in the nurses’ organizational and social setting [ 49 , 50 ], both in existing practices and in the messy fragmented process of developing distinct nursing roles. The notes taken during shadowing were worked up in thick descriptions [ 46 ].

Observation and participation in four types of meetings. The first and second authors attended: (1) kick-off meetings for the nursing teams ( n  = 2); (2) bi-monthly meetings ( n  = 10) between BNs and the project team to share experiences and reflect on the challenges, successes and failures; and (3) project group meetings at which the nursing role developmental processes was discussed ( n  = 20). Additionally, the first author observed nurses in ward meetings discussing the nursing role distinctions in daily practice ( n  = 15). Minutes and detailed notes also produced thick descriptions [ 51 ]. This fieldwork provided a clear understanding of the experimental development process and how the respondents made sense of the challenges/problems, the chosen solutions and the changes to their work routines and organizational structures. During the fieldwork, informal conversations took place with nurses, nursing managers, project group members and the CEO (app. 15 h), which enabled us to reflect on the daily experiences and thus gain in-depth insights into practices and their meanings. The notes taken during the conversations were also written up in the thick description reports, shortly after, to ensure data validity [ 52 ]. These were completed with organizational documents, such as policy documents, activity plans, communication bulletins, formal minutes and in-house presentations.

Semi-structured interviews lasting 60–90 min were held by the first author with 22 respondents: the CEO ( n  = 1), middle managers ( n  = 4), VNs ( n  = 6), BNs ( n  = 9, including four senior nurses), paramedics ( n  = 2) using a predefined topic list based on the shadowing, observations and informal conversations findings. In the interviews, questions were asked about task distinctions, different stakeholder roles (i.e., nurses, managers, project group), experimental approach, and added value of the different roles and how they influence other roles. General open questions were asked, including: “How do you distinguish between tasks in daily practice?”. As the conversation proceeded, the researcher asked more specific questions about what role differentiation meant to the respondent and their opinions and feelings. For example: “what does differentiation mean for you as a professional?”, and “what does it mean for you daily work?”, and “what does role distinction mean for collaboration in your team?” The interviews were tape-recorded (with permission), transcribed verbatim and anonymized.

The fieldwork period ended with four focus groups held by the first author on each of the four nursing wards ( N  = 19 nurses in total: nine BNs, eight VNs, and two senior nurses). The groups discussed the findings, such as (nurses’ perceptions on) the emergence of role distinctions, the consequences of these role distinctions for nursing, experimenting as a strategy, the elements of a supportive environment and leadership. Questions were discussed like: “which distinctions are made between VN and BN roles?”, and “what does it mean for VNs, BNs and senior nurses?”. During these meetings, statements were also used to provoke opinions and discussion, e.g., “The role of the manager in developing distinct nursing roles is…”. With permission, all focus groups were audio recorded and the recordings were transcribed verbatim. The focus groups also served for member-checking and enriched data collection, together with the reflection meetings, in which the researchers reflected with the leader and a member of the project group members on program, progress, roles of actors and project outcomes. Finally, the researchers shared a report of the findings with all participants to check the credibility of the analysis.

Data analysis

Data collection and inductive thematic analysis took place iteratively [ 45 , 53 ]. The first author coded the data (i.e. observation reports, interview and focus group transcripts), basing the codes on the research question and theoretical notions on nursing role development and distinctions. In the next step, the research team discussed the codes until consensus was reached. Next, the first author did the thematic coding, based on actions and interactions in the nursing teams, the organizational consequences of their experimental development process, and relevant opinions that steered the development of nurse role distinctions (see Additional file ). Iteratively, the research team developed preliminary findings, which were fed back to the respondents to validate our analysis and deepen our insights [ 54 ]. After the analysis of the additional data gained in these validating discussions, codes were organized and re-organized until we had a coherent view.

Ethnography acknowledges the influence of the researcher, whose own (expert) knowledge, beliefs and values form part of the research process [ 48 ]. The first author was involved in the teams and meetings as an observer-as-participant, to gain in-depth insight, but remained research-oriented [ 55 ]. The focus was on the study of nursing actions, routines and accounts, asking questions to obtain insights into underlying assumptions, which the whole research group discussed to prevent ‘going native’ [ 56 , 57 ]. Rigor was further ensured by triangulating the various data resources (i.e. participants and research methods), purposefully gathered over time to secure consistency of findings and until saturation on a specific topic was reached [ 54 ]. The meetings in which the researchers shared the preliminary findings enabled nurses to make explicit their understanding of what works and why, how they perceived the nursing role distinctions and their views on experimental development processes.

Ethical considerations

All participants received verbal and written information, ensuring that they understood the study goals and role of the researcher [ 48 ]. Participants were informed about their voluntary participation and their right to end their contribution to the study. All gave informed consent. The study was performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Erasmus Medical Ethical Assessment Committee in Rotterdam (MEC-2019-0215), which also assessed the compliance with GDPR.

Our findings reveal how nurses gradually shaped new nursing role distinctions in an experimental process of action and appraisal and how the new BN nursing roles became embedded in new nursing routines, organizational routines and structures. Three empirical appeared from the systematic coding: (1) distinction based on complexity of care; (2) organizing hospital care; and (3) evidence-based practices (EBP) in quality improvement work.

Distinction based on complexity of care

Initially, nurses distinguished the VN and BN roles based on the complexity of patient care, as stated in national job profiles [ 32 ]. BNs were supposed to take care of clinically complex patients, rather than VNs, although both VNs and BNs had been equally taking care of every patient category. To distinguish between highly and less complex patient care, nurses developed a complexity measurement tool. This tool enabled classification of the predictability of care, patient’s degree of self-reliance, care intensity, technical nursing procedures and involvement of other disciplines. However, in practice, BNs questioned the validity of assessing a patient’s care complexity, because the assessments of different nurses often led to different outcomes. Furthermore, allocating complex patient care to BNs impacted negatively on the nurses’ job satisfaction, organizational routines and ultimately the quality of care. VNs experienced the shift of complex patient care to BNs as a diminution of their professional expertise. They continuously stressed their competencies and questioned the assigned levels of complexity, aiming to prevent losses to their professional tasks:

‘Now we’re only allowed to take care of COPD patients and people with pneumonia, so no more young boys with a pneumothorax drain. Suddenly we are not allowed to do that. (…) So, your [professional] world is getting smaller. We don’t like that at all. So, we said: We used to be competent, so why aren’t we anymore?’ (Interview VN1, in-service trained nurse).

In discussing complexity of care, both VNs and BNs (re)discovered the competencies VNs possess in providing complex daily care. BNs acknowledged the contestability of the distinction between VN and BN roles related to patient care complexity, as the next quote shows:

‘Complexity, they always make such a fuss about it. (…) At a given moment you’re an expert in just one certain area; try then to stand out on your ward. (…) When I go to GE [gastroenterology] I think how complex care is in here! (…) But it’s also the other way around, when I’m the expert and know what to expect after an angioplasty, or a bypass, or a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (…) When I’ve mastered it, then I no longer think it’s complex, because I know what to expect!’ (Interview BN1, 19-07-2017).

This quote illustrates how complexity was shaped through clinical experience. What complex care is , is influenced by the years of doing nursing work and hence is individual and remains invisible. It is not formally valued [ 58 ] because it is not included in the BN-VN competency model. This caused dissatisfaction and feelings of demotion among VNs. The distinction in complexities of care was also problematic for BNs. Following the complexity tool, recently graduated BNs were supposed to look after highly complex patients. However, they often felt insecure and needed the support of more experienced (VN) colleagues – which the VNs perceived as a recognition of their added value and evidence of the failure of the complexity tool to guide division of tasks. Also, mundane issues like holidays, sickness or pregnancy leave further complicated the use of the complexity tool as a way of allocating patients, as it decreased flexibility in taking over and swapping shifts, causing dissatisfaction with the work schedule and leading to problems in the continuity of care during evening, night and weekend shifts. Hence, the complexity tool disturbed the flexibility in organizing the ward and held possible consequences for the quality and safety of care (e.g. inexperienced BNs providing complex care), Ultimately, the complexity tool upset traditional teamwork, in which nurses more implicitly complemented each other’s competencies and ability to ‘get the work done’ [ 59 ]. As a result, role distinction based on ‘quantifiable’ complexity of care was abolished. Attention shifted to the development of an organizational and quality-enhancing role, seeking to highlight the added value of BNs – which we will elaborate on in the next section.

Organizing hospital care

Nurses increasingly fulfill a coordinating role in healthcare, making connections across occupational, departmental and organizational boundaries, and ‘mediating’ individual patient needs, which Allen describes as organizing work [ 49 ]. Attempting to make a valuable distinction between nursing roles, BNs adopted coordinating management tasks at the ward level, taking over this task from senior nurses and team managers. BNs sought to connect the coordinating management tasks with their clinical role and expertise. An example is bed management, which involves comparing a ward’s bed capacity with nursing staff capacity [ 1 , 60 ]. At first, BNs accompanied middle managers to the hospital bed review meeting to discuss and assess patient transfers. On the wards where this coordination task used to be assigned to senior nurses, the process of transferring this task to BNs was complicated. Senior nurses were reluctant to hand over coordinating tasks as this might undermine their position in the near future. Initially, BNs were hesitant to take over this task, but found a strategy to overcome their uncertainty. This is reflected in the next excerpt from fieldnotes:

Senior nurse: ‘First we have to figure out if it will work, don’t we? I mean, all three of us [middle manager, senior nurse, BN] can’t just turn up at the bed review meeting, can we? The BN has to know what to do first, otherwise she won’t be able to coordinate properly. We can’t just do it.’ BN: ‘I think we should keep things small, just start doing it, step by step. (…) If we don’t try it out, we don’t know if it works.’ (Field notes, 24-05-2018).

This excerpt shows that nurses gradually developed new roles as a series of matching tasks. Trying out and evaluating each step of development in the process overcame the uncertainty and discomfort all parties held [ 61 ]. Moreover, carrying out the new tasks made the role distinctions become apparent. The coordinating role in bed management, for instance, became increasingly embedded in the new BN nursing role. Experimenting with coordination allowed BNs prove their added value [ 62 ] and contributed to overall hospital performance as it combined daily working routines with their ability to manage bed occupancy, patient flow, staffing issues and workload. This was not an easy task. The next quote shows the complexity of creating room for this organizing role:

The BNs decide to let the VNs help coordinate the daily care, as some VNs want to do this task. One BN explains: ‘It’s very hard to say, you’re not allowed.’ The middle manager looks surprised and says that daily coordination is a chance to draw a clear distinction and further shape the role of BNs. The project group leader replies: ‘Being a BN means that you dare to make a difference [in distinctive roles]. We’re all newbies in this field, but we can use our shared knowledge. You can derive support from this task for your new role.’ (Field notes, 09-01-2018).

This excerpt reveals the BNs’ thinking on crafting their organizational role, turning down the VNs wishes to bear equal responsibility for coordinating tasks. Taking up this role touched on nurse identity as BNs had to overcome the delicate issue of equity [ 63 ], which has long been a core element of the Dutch nursing profession. Taking over an organization role caused discomfort among BNs, but at the same time provided legitimation for a role distinction.

Legitimation for this task was also gained from external sources, as the law amendment and the expert committee’s job descriptions both mentioned coordinating tasks. However, taking over coordinating tasks and having an organizing role in hospital care was not done as an ‘implementation’; rather it required a process of actively crafting and carving out this new role. We observed BNs choosing not to disclose that they were experimenting with taking over the coordinating tasks as they anticipated a lack of support from VNs:

BN: ‘We shouldn’t tell the VNs everything. We just need this time to give shape to our new role. And we all know who [of the colleagues] won’t agree with it. In my opinion, we’d be better off hinting at it at lunchtime, for example, to figure out what colleagues think about it. And then go on as usual.’ (Field notes, 12-06-2018).

BNs stayed ‘under the radar’, not talking explicitly about their fragile new role to protect the small coordination tasks they had already gained. By deliberately keeping the evaluation of their new task to themselves, they protected the transition they had set into motion. Thus, nurses collected small changes in their daily routines, developing a new role distinction step by step. Changes to single tasks accumulated in a new role distinction between BNs, VNs and senior nurses, and gave BNs a more hybrid nursing management role.

Evidence-based practices in quality improvement work

Quality improvement appeared to be another key concern in the development of the new BN role. Quality improvement work used to be carried out by groups of senior nurses, middle managers and quality advisory staff. Not involved in daily routines, the working group focused on nursing procedures (e.g. changing infusion system and wound treatment protocols). In taking on this new role BNs tried different ways of incorporating EBP in their routines, an aspect that had long been neglected in the Netherlands. As a first step, BNs rearranged the routines of the working group. For example, a team of BNs conducted a quality improvement investigation of a patient’s formal’s complaint:

Twenty-two patients registered a pain score of seven or higher and were still discharged. The question for BNs was: how and why did this bad care happen? The BNs used electronic patient record to study data on the relations between pain, medication and treatment. Their investigation concluded: nurses do not always follow the protocols for high pain scores. Their improvement plan covered standard medication policy, clinical lessons on pain management and revisions to the patient information folder. One BN said: ‘I really loved investigating this improvement.’ (Field notes, 28-05-2018).

This fieldnote shows the joy quality improvement work can bring. During interviews, nurses said that it had given them a better grip on the outcome of nursing work. BNs felt the need to enhance their quality improvement tasks with their EBP skills, e.g. using clinical reasoning in bedside teaching, formulating and answering research questions in clinical lessons and in multi-disciplinary patient rounds to render nursing work more evidence based. The BNs blended EBP-related education into shift handovers and ward meetings, to show VNs the value of doing EBP [ 64 ]. In doing so, they integrated and fostered an EBP infrastructure of care provision, reflecting a new sense of professionalism and responsibility for quality of care.

However, learning how to blend EPB quality work in daily routines – ‘learning in practice’ –requires attention and steering. Although the BNs had a Bachelor’s degree, they had no experience of a quality-enhancing role in hospital practice [ 65 ]. In our case, the interplay between team members’ previous education and experienced shortcomings in knowledge and skills uncovered the need for further EBP training. This training established the BNs’ role as quality improvers in daily work and at the same time supported the further professionalization of both BNs and VNs. Although introducing the EBP approach was initially restricted to the BNs, it was soon realized that VNs should be involved as well, as nursing is a collaborative endeavor [ 1 ], as one team member (the trainer) put it:

‘I think that collaboration between BNs and VNs would add lots of value, because both add something different to quality work. I’d suggest that BNs could introduce the process-oriented, theoretical scope, while VNs could maybe focus on the patients’ interest.’ (Fieldnote, informal conversation, 11-06-2018).

During reflection sessions on the ward level and in the project team meetings BNs, informed by their previous experience with the complexity tool, revealed that they found it a struggle to do justice to everyone’s competencies. They wanted to use everyone’s expertise to improve the quality of patient care. They were for VNs being involved in the quality work, e.g. in preparing a clinical lesson, conducting small surveys, asking VNs to pose EBP questions and encourage VNs to write down their thoughts on flip over charts as means of engaging all team members.

These findings show that applying EPB in quality improvement is a relational practice driven by mutual recognition of one another’s competencies. This relational practice blended the BNs’ theoretical competence in EBP [ 66 ] with the VNs’ practical approach to the improvement work they did together. As a result, the blend enhanced the quality of daily nursing work and thus improved the quality of patient care and the further professionalization of the whole nursing team.

This study aimed to understand how an experimental approach enables differently educated nurses to develop new, distinct professional roles. Our findings show that roles cannot be distinguished by complexity of care; VNs and BNs are both able to provide care to patients with complex healthcare needs based on their knowledge and experience. However, role distinctions can be made on organizing care and quality improvement. BNs have an important role organizing care, for example arranging the patient flow on and across wards at bed management meetings, while VNs contribute more to organizing at the individual patient level. BNs play a key role in starting and steering quality improvement work, especially blending EBP in with daily nursing tasks, while VNs are involved but not in the lead. Working together on quality improvement boosts nursing professionalization and team development.

Our findings also show that the role development process is greatly supported by a series of small-change experiments, based on action and appraisal. This experimental approach supported role development in three ways. First, it incorporates both formal tasks and the invisible, unconscious elements of nursing work [ 49 ]. Usually, invisible work gets no formal recognition, for example in policy documents [ 55 ], whereas it is crucial in daily routines and organizational structures [ 49 , 60 ]. Second, experimenting triggers an accumulation of small changes [ 33 , 35 ] leading to the embeddedness of role distinctions in new nursing routines, allowing nurses to influence the organization of care. This finding confirms the observations of Reay et al. that nurses can create small changes in daily activities to craft a new nursing role, based on their thorough knowledge of their own practice and that of the other involved professional groups [ 37 ]. Although these changes are accompanied by tension and uncertainty, the process of developing roles generates a certain joy. Third, experimenting stimulated nursing professionalization, enabling the nurses to translate national legislation into hospital policy and supporting the nurses’ own (bottom-up) evolution of practices. Historically, nursing professionalization is strongly influenced by gender and education level [ 43 ] resulting in a subordinate position, power inequity and lack of autonomy [ 44 ]. Giving nurses the lead in developing distinct roles enables them to ‘engage in acts of power’ and obtain more control over their work. Fourth, experimenting contributes to role definition and clarification. In line with Poitras et al. [ 12 ] we showed that identifying and differentiating daily nursing tasks led to the development of two distinct and complementary roles. We have also shown that the knowledge base of roles and tasks includes both previous and additional education, as well as nursing experience.

Our study contributes to the literature on the development of distinct nursing roles [ 9 , 10 , 11 ] by showing that delineating new roles in formal job descriptions is not enough. Evidence shows that this formal distinction led particularly to the non-recognition, non-use and degradation [ 41 ] of VN competencies and discomforted recently graduated BNs. The workplace-based experimental approach in the hospital includes negotiation between professionals, the adoption process of distinct roles and the way nurses handle formal policy boundaries stipulated by legislation, national job profiles, and hospital documents, leading to clear role distinctions. In addition to Hughes [ 42 ] and Abbott [ 67 ] who showed that the delineation of formal work boundaries does not fit the blurred professional practices or individual differences in the profession, we show how the experimental approach leads to the clarification and shape of distinct professional practices.

Thus, an important implication of our study is that the professionals concerned should be given a key role in creating change [ 37 , 39 , 40 ]. Adding to Mannix et al. [ 38 ], our study showed that BNs fulfill a leadership role, which allows them to build on their professional role and identity. Through the experiments, BNs and VNs filled the gap between what they had learned in formal education, and what they do in daily practice [ 64 , 65 ]. Experimenting integrates learning, appraising and doing much like going on ‘a journey with no fixed routes’ [ 34 , 68 ] and no fixed job description, resulting in the enlargement of their roles.

Our study suggests that role development should involve professionalization at different educational levels, highlighting and valuing specific roles rather than distinguishing higher and lower level skills and competencies. Further research is needed to investigate what experimenting can yield for nurses trained at different educational levels in the context of changing healthcare practices, and which interventions (e.g., in process planning, leadership, or ownership) are needed to keep the development of nursing roles moving ahead. Furthermore, more attention should be paid to how role distinction and role differentiation influence nurse capacity, quality of care (e.g., patient-centered care and patient satisfaction), and nurses’ job satisfaction.


Our study was conducted on four wards of one teaching hospital in the Netherlands. This might limit the potential of generalizing our findings to other contexts. However, the ethnographic nature of our study gave us unique understanding and in-depth knowledge of nurses’ role development and distinctions, both of which have broader relevance. As always in ethnographic studies, the chances of ‘going native’ were apparent, and we tried to prevent this with ongoing reflection in the research team. Also, the interpretation of research findings within the Dutch context of nurse professionalization contributed to a more in-depth understanding of how nursing roles develop, as well as the importance of involving nurses themselves in the development of these roles to foster and support professional development.

We focused on role distinctions between VNs and BNs and paid less attention to (the collaboration with) other professionals or management. Further research is needed to investigate how nursing role development takes place in a broader professional and managerial constellation and what the consequences are on role development and healthcare delivery.

This paper described how nurses crafted and shaped new roles with an experimental process. It revealed the implications of developing a distinct VN role and the possibility to enhance the BN role in coordination tasks and in steering and supporting EBP quality improvement work. Embedding the new roles in daily practice occurred through an accumulation of small changes. Anchored by action and appraisal rather than by design , the changes fostered by experiments have led to a distinction between BNs and VNs in the Netherlands. Furthermore, experimenting with nursing role development has also fostered the professionalization of nurses, encouraging nurses to translate knowledge into practice, educating the team and stimulating collaborative quality improvement activities.

This paper addressed the enduring challenge of developing distinct nursing roles at both the vocational and Bachelor’s educational level. It shows the importance of experimental nursing role development as it provides opportunities for the professionalization of nurses at different educational levels, valuing specific roles and tasks rather than distinguishing between higher and lower levels of skills and competencies. Besides, nurses, managers and policymakers can embrace the opportunity of a ‘two-way window’ in (nursing) role development, whereby distinct roles are outlined in general at policy levels, and finetuned in daily practice in a process of small experiments to determine the best way to collaborate in diverse contexts.

Availability of data and materials

The data generated and analyzed during the current study is not publicly available to ensure data confidentiality but is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request and with the consent of the research participants.


Bachelor-trained nurse

Vocational-trained nurse

Evidence-based Practices

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The authors would like to thank all participants for their contribution to this study.

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van Schothorst–van Roekel, J., Weggelaar-Jansen, A.M.J., Hilders, C.C. et al. Nurses in the lead: a qualitative study on the development of distinct nursing roles in daily nursing practice. BMC Nurs 20 , 97 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-021-00613-3

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Usefulness of nursing theory-guided practice: an integrative review


  • 1 School of Nursing, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, Canada.
  • 2 Shifa College of Nursing, Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • 3 Clinical Nursing Instructor, Nipissing University, North Bay, ON, Canada.
  • PMID: 30866078
  • DOI: 10.1111/scs.12670

Background: Nursing theory-guided practice helps improve the quality of nursing care because it allows nurses to articulate what they do for patients and why they do it. However, the usefulness of nursing theory-guided practice has been questioned and more emphasis has been placed on evidence-based nursing and traditional practice. Therefore, an examination of experimental studies was undertaken to analyse the extent of use and usefulness of nursing theories in guiding practice. We reviewed experimental studies because in this era of evidence-based practice, these designs are given more weightage over other research designs. This examination would corroborate the usefulness of nursing theory-guided practice compared to traditional practice.

Methods: An integrative review was conducted. Literature search was performed within multiple databases, and 35 studies were reviewed and appraised.

Results: Majority of the studies were from Iran, the United States and Turkey and used Orem's self-care model, Roy's adaptation model and Peplau's theory of interpersonal relations. The effect of theory-guided interventions was evaluated in improving quality of life, self-efficacy, self-care and stress of patients with chronic, acute, cardiac and psychological illnesses. The quality rating was judged to be strong for three studies, moderate for 25 studies and weak for seven studies. All of the strongly rated studies found nursing theory-guided interventions useful. Overall, nursing theory-guided interventions improved all of studied outcomes in 26 studies and at least one outcome in nine studies. None of the studies reported that nursing theory-guided interventions as not useful.

Conclusion: Nursing theories have guided practice in both eastern and Western countries, and theory-guided practice has been found useful compared to traditional nursing practice. Therefore, nurses should continue to guide their nursing practice through the lens of nursing theories and should continue to evaluate the effectiveness of nursing theory-guided practice.

Keywords: experimental studies; nursing theories; nursing theory-guided practice.

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Essays on Nursing Theory

Nursing theory essay topics.

As a college student, choosing the right essay topic is crucial to your success. It's an opportunity to showcase your creativity and personal interests while also demonstrating your understanding of nursing theory. This page is designed to help you explore a variety of essay topics and provide guidance on how to structure your essays effectively.

Essay Types and Topics

Argumentative essay.

  • The impact of nurse-patient ratios on patient outcomes
  • Ethical considerations in nursing practice
  • The role of technology in modern nursing

Paragraph Example: The debate over nurse-patient ratios has been a topic of much controversy in the nursing community. In this essay, we will examine the impact of nurse-patient ratios on patient outcomes and explore the ethical considerations surrounding this issue. It is clear that this is an important topic that requires careful consideration and analysis.

Paragraph Example: It is evident that nurse-patient ratios have a significant impact on patient outcomes. As we move forward, it is crucial to consider the ethical implications of these ratios and strive for solutions that prioritize patient well-being.

Compare and Contrast Essay

  • Traditional nursing practices vs. modern nursing practices
  • The role of evidence-based practice in nursing
  • The impact of culture on nursing care

Descriptive Essay

  • A day in the life of a nurse
  • The challenges of providing palliative care
  • The impact of a nurse's role in patient recovery

Persuasive Essay

  • The importance of mental health support for nurses
  • Advocating for nurse-led initiatives in healthcare
  • The need for increased diversity in nursing leadership

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  • A personal experience that inspired a career in nursing
  • An impactful patient interaction
  • The journey of overcoming a nursing challenge

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Choosing an essay topic that interests you is the first step to engaging your readers. Your personal connection to the topic will shine through in your writing, making it more compelling and authentic. Don't be afraid to explore topics that excite you and spark your curiosity.

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Each essay type offers unique opportunities for developing essential skills. Argumentative essays enhance your analytical thinking and persuasive writing abilities. Compare and contrast essays help you practice critical thinking and analysis. Descriptive essays hone your ability to paint vivid pictures with words, while persuasive essays strengthen your argumentation skills. Finally, narrative essays allow you to explore storytelling techniques and connect with your audience on a personal level.

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Evidence-Based Practice and Nursing Research

Evidence-based practice is now widely recognized as the key to improving healthcare quality and patient outcomes. Although the purposes of nursing research (conducting research to generate new knowledge) and evidence-based nursing practice (utilizing best evidence as basis of nursing practice) seem quite different, an increasing number of research studies have been conducted with the goal of translating evidence effectively into practice. Clearly, evidence from research (effective innovation) must be accompanied by effective implementation, and an enabling context to achieve significant outcomes.

As mentioned by Professor Rita Pickler, “nursing science needs to encompass all manner of research, from discovery to translation, from bench to bedside, from mechanistic to holistic” ( Pickler, 2018 ). I feel that The Journal of Nursing Research must provide an open forum for all kind of research in order to help bridge the gap between research-generated evidence and clinical nursing practice and education.

In this issue, an article by professor Ying-Ju Chang and colleagues at National Cheng Kung University presents an evidence-based practice curriculum for undergraduate nursing students developed using an action research-based model. This “evidence-based practice curriculum” spans all four academic years, integrates coursework and practicums, and sets different learning objectives for students at different grade levels. Also in this issue, Yang et al. apply a revised standard care procedure to increase the ability of critical care nurses to verify the placement of nasogastric tubes. After appraising the evidence, the authors conclude that the aspirate pH test is the most reliable and economical method for verifying nasogastric tube placement at the bedside. They subsequently develop a revised standard care procedure and a checklist for auditing the procedure, conduct education for nurses, and examine the effectiveness of the revised procedure.

I hope that these two studies help us all better appreciate that, in addition to innovation and new breakthrough discoveries, curriculum development and evidence-based quality improvement projects, though may not seem so novel, are also important areas of nursing research. Translating evidence into practice is sound science and merits more research.

Cite this article as: Chien, L. Y. (2019). Evidence-based practice and nursing research. The Journal of Nursing Research, 27 (4), e29. https://doi.org/10.1097/jnr.0000000000000346

  • Pickler R. H. (2018). Honoring the past, pursuing the future . Nursing Research , 67 ( 1 ), 1–2. 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000255 [ PubMed ] [ CrossRef ] [ Google Scholar ]

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This price is for a print subscription mailed to a US resident. For information related to library and institutional subscriptions and packages, print and online pricing, and options for those outside of the USA, please contact Springer Publishing Subscriber Services, P.O. Box 465, Hanover, Pennsylvania 17331. Email: [email protected]

Research and Theory for Nursing Practice  focuses on issues relevant to improving nursing practice, education, and patient care. The articles strive to discuss knowledge development in its broadest sense, reflect research using a variety of methodological approaches, and combine several methods and strategies in a single study. Because of the journal's international emphasis, article contributors address the implications of their studies for an international audience.

Visit  Research and Theory for Nursing Practice   online  on Springer Publishing Connect to view tables of contents or to subscribe.

Diane B. Monsivais, PhD, RN, CNE, ANEF The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, Texas

Debra R. Hanna, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC Theory and Concept Analysis Editor

Michael G. Weaver, PhD, RN, FAAN Statistics Methods Editor

Leslie Robbins, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS/NP-BC, FAANP, ANEF Global Health and Education Editor


Sandy Burgener, PhD, RN, FAAN Associate Professor Emerita School of Nursing University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana Urbana, Illinois

Nancy Dluhy, PhD, RN Professor Emeritus College of Nursing University of Massachusetts Dartmouth North Dartmouth, Massachusetts

Ellen Fineout-Overholt, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN Mary Coulter Dowdy Distinguished Nursing Professor School of Nursing College of Nursing and Health Sciences University of Texas at Tyler Tyler, Texas

Sigridur Gunnarsdottir, RN, PhD Chief Nurse Executive Associate Professor Landspitali - University Hospital Reykjavík, Iceland University of Iceland

Debra R. Hanna, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC Professor Barbara H. Hagan School of Nursing Molloy College Rockville Centre, New York

Phalakshi Manjrekar, PhD, MSc(N), RN, RM Director, Nursing Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre Veer Savarkar Marg Mahim, Mumbai

Leslie Robbins, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS/NP-BC, FAANP, ANEF Associate Professor and Assistant Dean Graduate Program School of Nursing The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, Texas

Souraya Sidani, PhD Professor and Canada Research Chair School of Nursing Ryerson University Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Youn-Jung Son, PhD, RN Professor Red Cross College of Nursing Chung-Ang University Seoul, Republic of Korea

Michael G. Weaver, PhD, RN, FAAN Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship College of Nursing University of Florida Gainesville, Florida

Danny G. Willis, DNS, RN, PMHCNS-BC Associate Professor/Department Chair University of Wisconsin Madison School of Nursing Madison, Wisconsin


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